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Politics & Government

US Veterans Affairs Sec. visits Wilmington VA hospital

Anne Hoffman/Delaware Public Media

US Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Robert McDonald toured the Wilmington VA Medical Center Monday with Senator Tom Carper.

The Wilmington VA Medical Center was tagged last year for “further review” last June by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  It was one of 112 VA medical centers singled out for further scrutiny after a nationwide examination of centers regarding lengthy wait times for medical appointments. Secretary McDonald says the results of that additional review are still pending because of the volume of facilities the Inspector General has to complete.

"I don’t know the schedule of when this one will specifically released but I can guarantee you as soon as we get it we will work hard to remediate any issues that he found, if there are any and work hard to move forward," said Secretary McDonald.

McDonald, who was appointed last year, has embarked on an overhaul of the Veterans Affairs system after scandals caused the former Secretary to resign. McDonald says Delaware is already ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing some new strategies, such as increasing public-private partnerships between the VA and outside groups.  McDonald is also focusing on digitizing the VA’s old paper system and establishing community veteran advisory councils. He lauded the leadership at the Wilmington VA for asking its patients for feedback.

Senator Tom Carper praised the VA, saying that despite scandals over long wait times and inefficiency the administration had come a long way since the 1970s, when he had just returned from the Vietnam War.

"Every week, I hear from veterans, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard... who say, you know, I know they’re not perfect at the VA, but they did this for me. Or they did that for my brother, or my son," he said.

"We’re not perfect," Secretary McDonald concluded. "We can all work to perfection every single day and improve, and that’s what we’re busy to do."