“I believe that if somebody has served our nation then they have to get the benefits and services that they have earned, and my budgets have consistently reflected that,” Obama said. “That’s why we’ve resourced the Veterans Affairs office more in terms of increases than any other department or agency in my government.”
“That doesn’t mean, though, that some folks may still not be getting the help that they need,” Obama added. “We’re going to find out if, in fact, that’s the case.”
CNN reported last week that the Phoenix VA hospital developed a “secret waiting list” to avoid department policies on reporting extended delays. The agency paid a base salary of $196,000 and a bonus $9,000 last year to the medical center’s director, Sharon Helman.
The VA inspector general’s office has launched an investigation of the allegations, and the head of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has promised to hold a hearing after the review is finished.
In the meantime, the VA has sent a team of clinical experts to Phoenix to review appointment scheduling procedures and any delays in care at the hospital.
“These allegations, if true, are absolutely unacceptable and if the Inspector General’s investigation substantiates these claims, VA will take swift and appropriate action,” the department said in a statement.
Veterans groups quickly condemned the alleged wait-list scheme last week, with the Veterans of Foreign Wars demanding accountability, including criminal prosecution, for any VA leaders responsible for the purported actions.