When President Obama visits Phoenix on Thursday to speak about the benefits of home ownership, he’ll be less than a mile away from the place where a major scandal began last year: the Phoenix VA hospital.
Since he will be close by, one veterans advocacy group believes Obama should visit the facility to show that he is committed to fixing the flawed VA system.
“If President Obama wanted to get the ground truth — and send a signal of strong leadership — he would take the time to visit the Phoenix VA hospital during his forthcoming trip to that neighborhood,” Pete Hegseth, the CEO of Concerned Veterans for American, said in a statement.
The Phoenix VA served as the flashpoint for the scandal, which led to the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and the eventual firing of Sharon Helman, the director of the Phoenix facility. (RELATED: Phoenix VA Executive Booted For Beyonce Tickets)
With hospital administrators’ knowledge, Phoenix VA staffers were failing to provide care to veterans in the mandated time frame. As a work-around, the veterans were placed on secret waiting lists in order to mask the delays in care. Whistle-blowers alleged that more than 40 veterans on those secret lists died while waiting to receive care.
The Phoenix revelations exposed a system-wide pattern in which VA hospitals across the U.S. were employing similar tactics which delayed care to veterans.
While Obama hired on former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald to right the ship and approved $16 billion in additional VA spending, “President Obama has not visited a single VA hospital to see firsthand how the VA is failing to serve our nation’s veterans,” Hegseth notes.
“Unfortunately, President Obama has yet to show leadership in the fight to reform and fix the VA,” Hegseth continued. “Instead, members of his administration have repeatedly tried to downplay the scandal — going so far as to whitewash reports on the deaths of veterans as the result of the use secret wait lists, including at the Phoenix VA hospital.”
“He should start by taking a 1-mile detour and visiting the scandal-plagued VA hospital in Phoenix,” Hegseth said in his statement.
Obama’s speech at Central High School will mark the third he’s given in Phoenix on the topic of home ownership during his presidency, according to The Arizona Republic.
The White House did not respond to The Daily Caller’s request for comment.
Update: White House press secretary Joshua Earnest stated at a briefing on Tuesday that Obama will likely not visit the Phoenix VA facility.
“I haven’t seen the President’s full schedule yet, but I don’t believe at this point that this is something he is planning to do,” Earnest said in response to a question from Fox News’ Ed Henry.
When asked why not, Earnest avoided directly answering the question.