VA announces nearly all 1,700 forgotten vets contacted

Posted: Updated:

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Wednesday that nearly all 1,700 veterans identified in the recent VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) interim report as having been left off the official wait list have been contacted.

Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson made the announcement in Washington, DC, on Wednesday morning at a breakfast discussion with veteran organizations. Gibson outlined immediate steps taken to respond to the interim report, including announcing travel this Thursday to the Phoenix VA Health Care System.

"No veteran should have to wait for the quality healthcare they have earned and deserve. The Inspector General confirmed we have real issues when it comes to patient scheduling and access, and we have moved immediately to address those issues in Phoenix," said Gibson. "The department has now reached out to every veteran identified by the OIG to discuss individual medical needs and immediately begin scheduling appointments. Getting this right is our top priority, and taking care of the veterans in Phoenix is a good place to start. The department will also continue reaching out to veterans nationwide to accelerate their access to care, and that is the message I intend to deliver in Phoenix and across the country."

Last week, the OIG released an interim report on patient scheduling and access identifying approximately 1,700 veterans in Phoenix awaiting healthcare who were not currently in the scheduling system. After accounting for duplicates and those Veterans who declined to provide contact information, VA called all 1,586 individual veterans. For those veterans who VA could not reach after several attempts or who had not provided phone details, VA mailed letters. VA identified that roughly 725 veterans of the 1,700 wanted care within 30 days.

In a news release, the VA vowed to schedule all veterans requesting care at the Phoenix VA Health Care System. If the Phoenix VA Health Care System is not able to promptly provide care using VA providers, VA will identify providers in the community through the VA's non-VA care program.

Gibson is set to visit the Phoenix VA on Thursday. Included in his schedule are meetings with staff, veteran service organizations and members of Arizona's congressional delegation.

Gibson has set time aside to meet with the media.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.