GILBERT, AZ - It was supposed to be a day of celebration Thursday for VA Health Care, as a dedication was held for the newest clinic opening in Gilbert. But disturbing allegations of secrecy, unethical conduct, and extended wait times for veterans overshadowed the ceremony.
“Some of the allegations that were made I was shocked by,” said Network Director Susan Bowers, who oversees the Southwest region. She claims she had no idea about the alleged "secret lists." “If there are people who knew that a problem existed and did not bring that forward, I’m going to be very angry.”
When asked about the allegations, Phoenix VA Director Sharon Helman tried to avoid the subject.
“Right now we're talking about this beautiful clinic and this gift for the veterans,” said Helman. “So we have the Office of Inspector General who is there looking at the allegations, that is not what we're here for today.”
Vietnam Veteran Joseph Maguire attended the dedication ceremony to talk to local lawmakers about his personal issues with the clinic. He says when he showed up to his appointment in Phoenix, it had been canceled with no explanation.
“And I said, ‘well how about setting up another one?,' and he told me I had no chance of getting another appointment.”
Maguire says he’s not worried about himself as much as the current generation of veterans needing care.
“It breaks my heart that they send these boys off to war, and they come back and we don’t do anything for them.”