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VA Accused of Coverup as Veterans Healthcare Needs not Being Met

PHOTO: The backlog at VA could be as high as hundreds of thousands of appointments, Hilzenrath said, adding that the records are unreliable.
March 21. 2013
PHOTO: The backlog at VA could be as high as hundreds of thousands of appointments, Hilzenrath said, adding that the records are unreliable.

LANSING, Mich. - American war veterans are having a hard time getting timely medical appointments, and the Department of Veteran Affairs is being accused of covering up the delays.

Testimony at a recent House oversight committee hearing showed some veterans having to wait as long as two months to see a doctor - even though the department's goal is no more than two weeks, according to the federal watchdog group Project On Government Oversight (POGO).

A government accountability official recently testified that the VA has been changing appointment dates to make it appear they're meeting the deadlines, said David Hilzenrath, POGO's editor-in-chief.

"At one clinic, the staff allegedly logged the desired dates, the dates patients wanted to be seen, as if they were the actual dates for the appointments," he said, "making it appear that there was no wait time at all."

Hilzenrath says documents show veterans have been harmed - and even have died - because of the delays.

"We're talking about people who come back from war with physical injuries, with psychological injuries, with traumas of various sorts that could incapacitate them or render them suicidal," he said.

The backlog at VA could be as high as hundreds of thousands of appointments, Hilzenrath said, adding that the records are unreliable. VA officials say they are looking at ways to improve the documenting system and timeliness of medical services.

Rob South, Public News Service - MI