Local veterans saddened by VA hospital allegations - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Local veterans saddened by VA hospital allegations

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FITCHBURG (WKOW) -- Local veterans said Monday they're saddened to hear of allegations regarding long wait times and altered records at Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics around the country.

A total of 26 facilities are under investigation by the VA's Inspector General.

"It kind of bothers me a little bit," said R. John Krebs, a Sun Prairie native and veteran of the Korean War.

In Phoenix, Arizona, long delays for care are being blamed for the deaths of 40 veterans.

Hospitals in Colorado, Texas, Wyoming, North Carolina, Missouri and Illinois are among those being accused, in some capacity, of altering records to hide long wait times for treatment.

"I'm not too aware of the problem," said James Farmer, Commander of Sun Prairie's VFW Post 9362. "The care I've gotten at the local, VA Hospital (in Madison) has been excellent."

"They couldn't treat me any better," Farmer said of the local VA facility.

Mary Kolar, a retired U.S. Navy Captain, said all veterans should be entitled to medical care upon returning home. She added the federal government should be prepared to pay for that.

"You can't not fund the VA and then expect our veterans to have the best medical care," Kolar said.

"We have to ensure the funding is there," she added.

Krebs said, if the allegations are proven true, he believes underperforming hospital employees should be punished.

"I don't think the hospitals are the problem," he said. "I think it's the employees, and whoever handles the system.

Kolar agrees with the concept of holding poor workers should face consequences.

"If people are not doing their job right, whether it's the VA, someone in the military or someone else in government, people should be held accountable," Kolar said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Saturday it would be giving veterans more flexibility to seek care at non-VA facilities when they run into long wait times.

Lawmakers have also discussed the possibility of giving the VA Secretary broader authority to fire low-performing hospitals officials if the allegations are proven true.

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