Sen. Sanders Says VA Issues Must Be Fixed, Hesitant on Firings

Published 05/26 2014 07:09PM

Updated 05/26 2014 07:20PM

VERGENNES, Vt. - Many of the veterans who lined the streets of Vergennes Memorial Day are patients at Vermont’s VA clinics, like Army veteran Peter Burley.

“Most of it has been excellent,” Burley said.

But Burley knows what has been plaguing clinics elsewhere. VA staffs in Arizona, Colorado, Texas and other states are accused of cooking the books to make it seem like veterans were only waiting for care for 14 days, the limit allowed by the VA. In some cases veterans were waiting much longer.

“We really need to get these people some help,” Burley said.

“Our job must be to make sure everybody gets into that system in a timely way,” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said.

Senator Sanders says the VA allegations need to be investigated but he says the problems don't stop there.

He points out more than two million new veterans have started receiving care from the VA in the past few years and he has introduced a bill in the senate to help.

“(So) that we have the staff, doctors, nurses to accommodate that significant new increase. We also want to make sure the administrators are accountable,” Senator Sanders said.

But Senator Sanders is against a bill introduced by republicans in the house that would make it easier to remove VA administrators from their jobs.

“You cannot run a strong health care system in doing that nor can you attract new people who would be fired without due process but I do feel we will reach an agreement with the House,” Senator Sanders said.

One sticking point between republicans and democrats is the fate of VA Secretary, General Shinseki. Senator Sanders continues to back.

“Clearly there are problems but I think just to suggest that he resign is not the way to proceed,” Senator Sanders said.

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