Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says a heated Memorial Day weekend exchange between one of his Republican colleagues and veterans groups is being blown out of proportion. North Carolina Senator Richard Burr reportedly was angry that only the American Legion is demanding the resignation of the Veterans Affairs secretary, implying the other veterans groups are okay with what’s going on in the VA.
Grassley says, “Usually, Senator Burr is a pretty deliberative senator and I don’t think he meant anything unusual by what he said except just his personal opinion and maybe some frustration because the situation’s very bad.” As many as 40 veterans have reportedly died in recent months while waiting for treatment in VA hospitals and several of the facilities are accused of falsifying or covering up appointment records. Some veterans report waiting months for an appointment.
Burr says VA Secretary Eric Shinseki should resign. Burr said in his open letter the veterans’ groups that weren’t joining that chorus were “more interested in defending the status quo within the VA. … than in helping members.” Grassley says groups like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Disabled American Veterans and the Paralyzed Veterans of America most definitely are not okay with the status quo. “They don’t mean that, I know for a fact,” Grassley says. “I’ve talked to enough people from all organizations of veterans to know that they feel bad about the way veterans are being treated, particularly when veterans die because of fraud that’s involved in keeping two lists of people in wait.”
The worst of the reported problems are at VA facilities in Arizona, Colorado and Texas. Grassley says he is not aware of any significant problems with delays, let alone deaths, at VA facilities in Iowa. Many thousands of Iowa veterans are undergoing treatment at VA facilities in Iowa City, Des Moines, Omaha, Sioux Falls and at affiliated community clinics.