PALM DESERT, Calif. - Local leaders are reacting to the growing national controversy over care for our veterans. Assemblyman and Republican congressional candidate, Brian Nestande, spoke out Wednesday. Meanwhile, our current Congressman, Democrat Dr. Daul Ruiz, broke his silence on the scandal.
"We need leaders who act on behalf of our veterans and not accept bureaucratic excuses," said Assemblyman Nestande, surrounded by local veterans, in front of the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Clinic in Palm Desert.
"America made a deal with veterans saying if you're willing to sacrifice your life to protect us, then we will at a minimum provide you with health care. They held up their end of the bargain, unfortunately this administration has not held up its end," he said.
Nestande called on the Obama Administration for a full house cleaning at the Veterans Administration, including for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. That after the death of 40 vets who waited up to 2 years to see a doctor. The president vows to "fix" the problem and to get to the bottom of the VA's alleged misconduct, but Nestande says it's not enough.
"These problems at the VA are not new."
Michael Garrison, recently retired from the military, says he doesn't like what he's seeing or hearing.
"If anyone jokes that its only 40, or only 2, or only 5 ... everyone one of those is an unforgivable sin when it comes to people who have sacrificed, and have left parts of themselves on the battlefield," Garrison said.
For the first time since the scandal broke, we're hearing from the man Nestande wants to replace in congress, Dr. Raul Ruiz.
In a statement, Ruiz says...
"I am deeply disturbed and furious about the recent reports of forged record keeping and veterans seeking care dying due to long wait times at VA facilities.
That is unacceptable and those responsible must be held accountable and I am working to ensure this is not happening in my district or anywhere else in our country."
Ruiz also added that as a member of the Veterans Affairs committee, he'll demand answers from Secretary Shinseki.
However, Assemblyman Nestande says more needs to be done, and there needs to be a culture change in the system.