President Barack Obama has "lost the trust" of the nation's veterans for failing to follow through with substantive change for medical care at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Concerned Veterans of America spokeswoman Amber Barno told Newsmax TV's
Barno described the "strangely awkward and unenthusiastic" welcome Obama received when he addressed an American Legion convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday. In his speech, the president pledged support for veterans, following the scandal uncovered earlier this year regarding problems with VA medical treatment.
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"He has lost the trust of America's veterans. And, so, he can give a speech and talk about how he's going to help veterans, and all the executive actions that he's going to take to help them. But not everybody's buying what he's saying anymore," Barno said Wednesday.
Whistleblowers came forward last spring with reports of extended wait times for veterans seeking medical care at VA facilities. At least 40 deaths were attributed to the problem at the Phoenix VA facility alone.
Investigators with the VA's Office of Inspector General announced Monday that there was no proof that patient deaths were caused by delays in medical care at the Phoenix VA facility. Barno countered the report, saying, "The American people have common sense" and could "read through the lines and know exactly what it was the result from."
Obama hadn't followed through on the "many opportunities to make positive change for America's veterans," Barno said, adding that it was time to see action.
"He continues to just talk. We want to see him walk the walk, and actually show some leadership, hold the VA accountable, and be transparent. And we're not getting any of that," she said.
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Obama needs to "work closely" with new VA Secretary Bob McDonald, and "tell him what he expects," Barno said, explaining that's "what leadership is." She said veterans are just hearing the same promises, rather than seeing results.
"Everything we keep hearing about the VA is something that we've heard before. We know the issues. We know there's these false wait times and retaliation against whistleblowers, and veterans dying at the hands of the VA, due to these extended wait times and lack of care and mismanagement. What we're not seeing is anything being done about it," she said.
Barno said the IG report "pointed out some serious issues, especially with the unethical practices and mismanagement," but questioned the purpose of the investigation without subsequent action.
"We have to make sure that there's progress that comes out from these IG reports and the results and moving forward. So, I'm interested to see how the VA reacts to the IG report," she said. "I hope to see some positive progress made."
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