Charleston, W.Va. - West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant is urging the top watchdog for the Department of Veterans Affairs to include West Virginia in investigations into wait times at facilities across the country.
According to reports, as many as 26 VA facilities are now under formal investigation after reports that at least 40 American veterans died while waiting for care in Arizona.
"My dad served in Korea and my husband served in Afghanistan, so there is nothing more important to me than caring for our veterans,” Secretary Tennant said. “When I think that what happened in Arizona could have happened to my family, or any family, here in West Virginia, my blood boils. West Virginians are the first to answer the call to serve, and now I'm urging the Inspector General to answer our call for a thorough investigation to make sure our veterans are getting the care they deserve."
In a letter to Acting Inspector General Richard Griffin, Secretary Tennant lauded the many caring, competent West Virginia health professionals who work hard to care for veterans every day. But, she said systemic problems within the VA itself are clearly keeping too many veterans from getting the care they deserve.
Secretary Tennant pointed specifically to a recent report by Fox News that alleges wait times for mental health care at the Huntington VA Medical Center may have contributed to the suicide of at least two patients.
"West Virginia veterans, their families, and our VA health professionals deserve a thorough investigation that will allow us to identify problems where they exist, hold responsible parties accountable where appropriate, and take action to ensure we are delivering veterans with the highest standard of care," Secretary Tennant wrote.
"West Virginians deserve answers and as their Secretary of State, I demand them."