"In far too many instances, in far too many locations, we have let
our veterans down," Sloan Gibson told reporters after a tour of the
sprawling Audie Murphy VA Medical Center in San Antonio. VA
hospitals and clinics will be open during non-traditional hours to
expand coverage, said Gibson, who was appointed acting secretary of
the department on May 30.
U.S. lawmakers engaged in bipartisan talks this week to address
delays in the delivery of health care for military veterans. The
talks came after former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned in late
May amid a scandal over widespread schemes to mask care delays and
protect staff bonus awards and salary increases.
"We have lost an awful lot of trust, and we have work to do to earn
it back," Gibson said. "With veterans, we will do that one veteran
at a time."
Gibson said repeatedly that VA managers and administrators who are
found to have engaged in what he called "breaches of integrity" will
be held accountable.
U.S. Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who had
complained to Gibson about improper management at the Audie Murphy
hospital, said he was pleased with Gibson's comments during the
"We need swift action and strong resolve to fix the broken system at
the VA," Smith said.
[to top of second column]
In Phoenix, where cover-up schemes first surfaced, doctors said 40
veterans had died while awaiting care.
"I will personally meet with the families of any veterans who died
after failing to get care," Gibson said.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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