President Obama delivered a forceful defense of his veterans policies Wednesday, saying that caring for veterans and their families is “one of the causes of my presidency” and vowing to punish those responsible for long wait times and other serious problems at military medical centers.
Speaking at a hastily scheduled White House news conference, Obama sought to reassure lawmakers, veterans and others outraged over allegations that staffers at some Department of Veterans Affairs facilities had doctored records to cover up lengthy wait times and that some patients had died while waiting for care. He said an investigation into allegations of wrongdoing would be completed by next month and that those responsible for problems would be held accountable.
But Obama, who along with his wife has made veterans issues a centerpiece of his administration, also defended his overall attention to veterans issues. He said a backlog in disability claims at VA had been reduced and described the wait-time problem as “a problem for decades, and it’s been compounded by more than a decade of war.”