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Official confirms link between deaths and care-related delays

Over the past several months, our blog has followed the development of numerous scandals plaguing the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. These scandals have included significant delays related to veterans' benefits and delays in medical care at numerous medical facilities run by the VA throughout the nation. Questions have lingered in regards to the latter scandal, given that while the delays unquestionably occurred, no one has been quite sure how much harm was caused to veterans by these delays.

Most recently, a senior official employed by the watchdog agency tied to the Department of Veterans Affairs testified before Congress. This individual became the first to formally acknowledge that the care delays experienced by numerous veterans contributed to their deaths. This revelation is deeply disturbing, though it is not terribly shocking at this point.

Some members of Congress expressed frustration at this acknowledgement, given that a report issued by the VA's inspector general's office only a few months ago downplayed the link between care delays and veteran deaths. It is noteworthy that the official only testified to the link after answering questions for more than two hours, according to The New York Times.

It seems that the VA remains hesitant to take full responsibility for the harm that it has caused veterans both on a benefits-related level and on a care-related level. If anything positive is to come out of these scandals, it must be greater accountability and care for the nation's veterans. However, these positive outcomes seem to be far too slow in developing.

Source: New York Times, "V.A. Official Acknowledges Link Between Delays and Patient Deaths," Richard A. Oppel Jr., Sep. 17, 2014

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