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Coburn speaks about released VA report

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla._A new report, released this week by Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, suggests the ongoing problems at the Veteran’s Administration might be worse than first thought.

The report says more than 1,000 veterans may have died over the past decade in the midst of long wait times and cover-ups.

"We've said we've had access but denied them access, we've said we've had quality but denied them quality, we said we were going to take care of them but we haven't," said Coburn.

A startling new report, titled, "Friendly Fire: Death, Delay and Dismay at the VA", released by Coburn takes a closer look at government investigations into the VA system and those incidents addressed by the media, including the controversy over wait times, budget mismanagement, and the lack of attention the issue has gotten in Washington.

"It got out of control because Congress didn't do its job of hard, tough oversight and actually looking down into the VA to see what was happening," said Coburn.

Coburn says every aspect of the VA is far below standard. He calls it a "culture of mismanagement." Since the report was released Tuesday, more incidents have surfaced and he expects the outpouring of criticism and horror stories from veterans to continue.

"What it is, is that we are not keeping our commitment," he said.

Coburn argues that combat vets that are at least 50 percent disabled should have been, and should still be, getting the care they deserve. And moving forward, he believes we need to clean up the system and give the veterans a bigger voice in where they get care and who they get care from.

"We have a bureaucratic system that says what you need, who is going to give it to you and where you're going to get it, rather than letting the person who actually put their butt on the line for us say you get healthcare and you can go where you want," said Coburn.

Dr. Coburn, a physician himself, says he's passionate about fixing up the problems, because he knows if the government doesn't keep their word, many men and women will think twice about serving their country down the road.

"It's a matter of integrity and to honor those who have honored us by putting their lives at risk," said Coburn.

Earlier this month, Arizona senator John McCain said Coburn would be the best person to take over as Secretary of the VA.

"They're going to call someone else and that's okay, that's not something I aspire to anyway,” said Coburn. “It's not a question you can answer because it isn't going to happen."

Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson says a departmental review has been launched and should be completed within the next two weeks.


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