Lawmakers need to get to bottom of what happened at the Phoenix VA health facility scandal to make sure other Veterans Affairs officials aren’t “cooking the books,” said Paul Rieckhoff, co-founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).
“My message to Congress is turn up the heat, because there’s clearly a problem here and we need more accountability,” he said Thursday at an event in San Diego ahead of President Obama’s arrival there.
A whistleblower has alleged that at least 40 veterans died while waiting for an appointment on a secret list administrators used to make wait times seem shorter. The hospital has denied the charges, but VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has been subpoenaed to testify before Congress and several veterans’ groups and lawmakers have called for his resignation.
Mr. Rieckhoff said IAVA is still polling its members to make sure it represents their viewpoints in their stance on Mr. Shinseki. He said the organization will likely make a decision in the next few days.
“We are not calling for the secretary’s resignation, but what we need to know is, why shouldn’t we?” he said.
He criticized the president for holding five fundraisers in San Diego without any plans to address the VA crisis in a city with one of the highest veteran populations across the country.
“I hope you all ask Obama some questions while he’s here,” Mr. Rieckhoff said. “He can’t just come to California and do fundraisers without addressing the largest veteran population during the VA crisis.”