Acting VA secretary to visit Phoenix facility - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Acting VA chief unsure if 18 vets died because of wait

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The acting Veterans Affairs secretary was at the Phoenix VA Thursday. He said after his visit that the hospital does not have the resources it needs and of the 1,700 people found to not be on any waiting lists, 18 of them have died.

His title may be the acting secretary, but Sloan Gibson is treating his appointment like a permanent one.

"The President expects us to move out, and that is what we're going to do, and whether I am here for a week, or a month, or two years. Every day, every minute, that I am here we are going to make dust," said Gibson.

A West Point graduate, Sloan Gibson spent 20 years in the banking industry before becoming President of the U.S.O, he joined the VA in February.

"Questions have been raised about whether we have enough resources, and I will tell you here in Phoenix, my very strong sense is we do not," he said.

Gibson has already placed mobile care units in Phoenix and more are on the way. He also revealed that the VA contacted 1,700 patients who weren't on any waiting lists and found that 18 of them had died.

"It is clear in most of those instances there were repeated efforts to reach out and contact those veterans and we were unsuccessful. There are other instances where it is clear that we were being contacted about end of life care," said Gibson.

Gibson also met with some members of the Arizona Congressional delegation.

"I have been calling the Phoenix VA and federal VA for weeks on end... and not getting much in response, and today from acting Sec. Gibson we got the truth, honesty, and a commitment to change, and that is what is needed," said Rep. Kyrsten Sinema.

"Trust is the foundation of everything we do here... we have seen a massive erosion of that trust over the last few months, and we have to work to earn it back," said Gibson.

The acting secretary also got rid of bonuses for the administrator in 2014. He emphasized that the process has begun to remove 3 top leaders at the Phoenix VA, that process should take a few more weeks.
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