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“I have veterans who swear by the VA … and I have veterans who swear at the VA,” Shimkus said. “Those who are swearing at the VA, maybe we should empower them more.”

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, said he’s focusing on how to fix the system, including eliminating the “bureaucratic nightmare” that led to the current crisis.

“What we’ve seen at the VA is unacceptable and it’s our duty to make things right,” the Republican from Channahon said.

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Associated Press reporters Sara Burnett and Don Babwin contributed to this report.