In a statement released April 24, 2014, Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) National President Bill Lawson expressed the following regarding the deaths at the VA hospital in Phoenix.
“Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) is deeply disturbed by reports that at least 40 veterans died awaiting care at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix. We are outraged that hospital officials there may have covered up terrible delays and maintained secret lists of veterans who were grossly overdue for the care they had earned and clearly needed.
Paralyzed Veterans is calling for full accountability of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) leadership. We ask that the VA take appropriate actions related to those involved – including legal action. Paralyzed Veterans stands in solidarity with other veteran service organizations in demanding full accountability and immediate corrective action. Finally, we ask that the findings of the Inspector General’s report be made public.
For many years Paralyzed Veterans has been reporting the findings of our site visits to the VHA and our concerns that staff shortages are leading to potentially tragic delays in care. Our worst fears have been realized.
We have reported that there are shortages of nurses and doctors in spinal cord injury centers as well as significant delays in the vital annual checks ups for veterans with spinal cord injury and disease. These delays extend from 18 months to two years. We have not seen satisfactory improvements.
The conduct at the Phoenix VAMC will only strengthen our resolve to continue advocating for sufficient staffing and proper care for our nation’s veterans.
We know the VA is capable of better than this deplorable cover-up and lack of timely care in Phoenix. I know that Paralyzed Veterans of America and all veterans service organizations around the country will redouble efforts to help both veterans and the Department of Veterans Affairs ensure this never happens again.”