American Legion town hall set for veterans

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX (AP) -- Top officials from the American Legion are in Phoenix on Tuesday to discuss lapses in medical care with veterans amid an investigation into whether administrators maintained an off-the-books list to conceal lengthy wait times in Arizona.

The organization is holding a town hall meeting with veterans to discuss their quality of care. Its national commander, Daniel M. Dellinger, is among those leading the event. Congressional staff and other American Legion officials also are scheduled to attend.

The American Legion has been among the harshest critics of the VA since the allegations surfaced. The group last week called for the resignations of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and two of his top aides for what Dellinger called a "pattern of bureaucratic incompetence and failed leadership."

A Senate hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Washington on the issue, and Shinseki is to appear.

A recently retired Phoenix VA doctor brought the allegations to light by complaining to Congress, the media and the agency's inspector general about what he called a "secret list."

Dr. Sam Foote says 40 administrators kept the list to hide wait times and make their performance look better so they could collect bonuses. He says 40 veterans died while waiting for care.

The VA has adamantly denied that any such list existed and called it preposterous to suggest they would put patients' lives at danger for financial gain. The Phoenix VA director received a bonus of about $9,300 last year. They also said no proof has emerged about the 40 deaths.

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