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McCain, top veterans groups slam Obama's VA remarks

While President Barack Obama took a strong tone Wednesday concerning the allegations against the Department of Veterans Affairs, Sen. John McCain, responded by saying Obama’s remarks were “wholly insufficient.”

McCain, who has been vocal about the issue, saying the VA suffers from a “systemic, cultural problem that Congress cannot resolve with piecemeal responses,” issued the following statement:

“While I am glad that after many weeks of refusing to acknowledge this widening scandal, President Obama finally saw fit to speak about it today, but his remarks are wholly insufficient in addressing the fundamental, systemic problems plaguing our veterans’ health care system. According to the latest reports, 26 VA facilities nationwide are now being investigated, and this Administration’s ineffectual response has created a crisis of confidence in our veterans’ community. We need answers, leadership and accountability, none of which we’ve seen from the Obama Administration to date. Further, Congress must act to address the systemic problems at the VA by giving its leaders greater ability to hire and fire those charged with providing care, and by giving veterans far greater flexibility in how they get quality care in a timely manner.”

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The American Legion issued the following statement:

“The VA has been aware for some time that inappropriate scheduling procedures are widespread among its medical facilities,” said American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger. “Yet Secretary Shinseki has taken no initiative in correcting the problem. Veterans continue to die waiting for their health care, senior VA executives continue to get their bonuses, and only after all of this is the secretary now pledging to fix what’s wrong.”

The CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Paul Rieckhoff, said Obama’s comments were “a tremendous disappointment.”

“The President’s remarks today were a tremendous disappointment to America’s newest generation of veterans. He did nothing to quell the growing nationwide VA controversy,” said Rieckhoff, who said the comments gave his members “no reason to believe anything will change at the VA anytime soon.”

Also, CNN reports that House Veterans Affairs’ Committee chairman Jeff Miller, (R-Fla.) wants Obama to immediately sign an executive order allowing veterans waiting for medical care at VA hospitals to seek help outside of the VA system.

h/t: Politico, The Hill