Veterans rally over concern about medical care

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Dozens of military veterans held a rally outside the VA Medical Center in Phoenix on Wednesday following reports that as many as 40 veterans may have died while waiting for medical care.

The veterans are calling for a change to the system.

Many place the blame on Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jeff Flake for not keeping an eye on the federally-run hospital.

Phoenix veteran Steven Shockome said he tried warning the politicians about problems plaguing the VA years ago.

"How many lives could have been saved if Senator Flake and Senator McCain would have investigated back in '07," said Shockome.

The Department of Veterans Affairs released a report last week showing that two veterans in Phoenix died waiting for medical treatment, but one congressman says that number is a lot higher and is calling for a full-blown investigation into the Phoenix veterans hospital.

In congressional hearing, Florida Rep. Jeff Miller questioned a report that found 27 veterans across the country died because of long wait times for health care at the VA.

The revelations prompted the advocacy group Concerned Veterans for America to call for the rally in Phoenix.

"If they're hiding stuff that person needs to be held accountable," said Vietnam veteran Oscar Urrea.

Urrea said he has had friends die at the VA hospital because of botched care and he says the protest is the start of a movement.

Senators McCain and Flake have scheduled a news conference for 12 p.m. on Friday to discuss the Veterans health care system in Phoenix.

Phoenix VA hospital under fire for alleged delayed medical care