Congressman Lamar Smith

Representing the 21st District of Texas
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Smith Meets with Acting VA Secretary Sloan D. Gibson

Jun 6, 2014
Press Release
Calls for Better Care for San Antonio Veterans

Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) today met with Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan D. Gibson regarding new allegations of misconduct and long wait lists at local VA facilities.  Rep. Smith met with Secretary Gibson at the Audie L. Murphy Memorial VA Hospital and pressed the Secretary on what the VA is doing today to help San Antonio veterans seeking care.

Rep. Smith: “The national crisis at the VA has millions of Americans rightfully outraged. Unfortunately, the serious problems at the VA have hit too close to home.  There have been reports of misconduct, long wait lists and delayed care at several Central Texas VA facilities, including Audie Murphy Memorial Hospital in my district.

“Earlier today, I met with a veteran who has been waiting more than two years for oral surgery.  This is inexcusable.  America’s veterans deserve the best care possible, as soon as possible.

“I appreciate Secretary Gibson being in San Antonio today. During our meeting, I was reassured that he sincerely wants to help correct the problems facing our veterans.  We need swift action and strong resolve to fix the broken system at the VA.

“America’s veterans have made tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend our freedoms. They deserve the best health care, not delayed health care. I am committed to continuing to fight to ensure that San Antonio veterans have the best care that our nation can provide.” 

Earlier this week, Congressman Smith sent a letter to VA Acting Inspector General Richard Griffin regarding new reports from employees at Audie Murphy Memorial Hospital that senior managers at the hospital had directed schedulers to hide evidence of delays for veterans seeking care.  In the June 4 letter, Rep. Smith raised concerns about the independence and integrity of the IG investigation in light of reports that investigators were only interviewing schedulers who were hand-picked and coached by senior management.

Last month, Rep. Smith sent a letter to IG Griffin calling on him to immediately initiate an investigation into allegations of misconduct at three VA facilities in Texas. Smith was joined by 23 members of the Texas delegation in sending the letter. According to media reports, employees at the North Central Federal Clinic in San Antonio, the Austin Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic and Waco Veterans Affairs Medical Center were instructed by supervisors to ensure that wait times for veterans were as “close to zero days as possible.”  An employee of Veterans Affairs who recently worked at all three clinics claims that staffers falsely logged patients’ desired appointment dates to closely coincide with appointment openings. But in reality, veterans were left waiting for months.    

On May 27, IG Griffin responded to Rep. Smith confirming that his office is investigating allegations of misconduct at three Central Texas VA facilities: the North Central Federal Clinic in San Antonio, the Austin Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic and Waco Veterans Affairs Medical Center.