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Marino decries VA scandal, demands action

WASHINGTON, DC - On May 15, 2014, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki testified before Congress that he had been betrayed by those under him.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Major shake-ups at the Veteran's Administration have been coming since the news broke last month about thousands of veterans not receiving appropriate care at its facilities across the country, waiting for months before being able to see their doctors. The indictment against the VA hospital system included efforts to cover up the deaths of 40 veterans at the VA hospital in Phoenix, AZ. The Inspector General's interim report called the problems “systemic throughout the VA.”

Reports are coming in from veterans and their families about delays that not only put the lives of these veterans at risk, but in some cases resulted in deaths.

On May 16, Dr. Robert Petzel, undersecretary for health at the Veteran's Administration, resigned. And on Friday, Eric Shinseki, Secretary of the Veteran's Administration followed suit.

Previously, Shinseki claimed that he was “betrayed” by those under him and that he truly believed the incidents Phoenix were isolated ones.

Pennsylvania's 10th District Representative Tom Marino says that “[e]veryday reports come in which further uncover how bad the situation at the VA really is; and everyday it sickens me to know that our country’s veterans have not been receiving the care they deserve, and were promised, as result of their service to our nation’s armed forces.”

Marino was among the more than 100 congressional members calling for Shinseki's resignation. However, he also feels that the problem will not just go away now that upper echelon members of the VA bureaucracy have left.

“Clearly these atrocious practices have permeated many facilities throughout the VA’s bureaucracy,” Marino said in a statement released Friday. “And that’s why we need a clearly articulated framework for resolving these issues.”

In conjunction with any new measures the government will put into place, Marino feels that any veteran “who are in need of immediate care, and have not yet received it, to go to a facility of their choosing to, whether it is public or private, receive care.”

He also wants a separate hotline set up where veterans will be encouraged to call in with complaints allowing their claims to be recorded and documented.

And he wants the FBI to get involved with a “full scale investigation into any VA facilities in question.” The congressman wants any and all individuals involved in altering government records prosecuted in criminal court for all wrongdoings.

Marino feels the findings from this investigation will allow Congress to begin drafting proposals that fix the VA’s systemic problems. He doesn't want to see and “Band-Aid fixes.” He wants a comprehensive overhaul of the system that let down the veterans of our country.

He also encourages all constituents in Pennsylvania’s 10th District to contact his office with any complaints or inquires.