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American Legion: ‘VA medical center in Phoenix secret list is abhorrent’

Phoenix VA Health Care System
Phoenix VA Health Care System
(Phoenix VA Health Care System)

On Thursday, American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger called the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center in Phoenix that has been keeping a secret list of veterans with long-delayed appointments, that resulted in dozens of deaths, “abhorrent”.

The death of at least 40 veterans at the VA medical center in Phoenix was reported by CNN on Wednesday.

According to CNN who interviewed retired VA doctor, Sam Foote, who worked at the facility for 24 years that the secret list cover-up was designed to hide the fact of the long delays of 1,400 veterans just to see a doctor. Dellinger said if the allegations are true, the secret list in Phoenix “is one of the most abhorrent acts ever committed in VA history.”

Dr. Foote told CNN that the Phoenix hospital also maintains a “sham” list that it shares with the VA Central Office, which falsely indicates Phoenix has been providing timely appointments for its patients.

“If this is all true,” Dellinger said, it is a new low in a string of breakdowns at VA medical centers – Columbia, S.C.; Augusta, Ga.; Jackson, Miss.; the list goes on – that have caused the needless deaths of individuals who served this country with honor.”

“We’re going to find out what happened in Phoenix,” Dellinger said. “We are going to find out who was responsible for this secret list and if they are still working for VA. These preventable deaths keep mounting, and yet we see not a single VA manager being held accountable.”

“The American Legion will work with Congress and the VA Central Office to find out exactly what has been happening, and why. It is not sufficient for VA to simply say it’s going to try to do better next time, without holding people accountable.”

On Friday, the VA has yet to answer for the deaths and the secrecy of the VA medical center in Phoenix and it was also reported that the Washington Free Beacon found out that the VA Phoenix facility’s director, Sharon Helman, received a $9,345 bonus last year on top of her base salary of $169,000.