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American Legion commander takes tour of EB shipyard

By Jennifer McDermott

Publication: The Day

Published May 10. 2014 4:00AM
Dellinger canvassing state veterans about experiences at VA

Groton — In the wake of calling for the resignation of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, American Legion National Commander Dan Dellinger visited Connecticut on Friday and asked veterans about their experiences with the VA.

Dellinger, who represents the largest national veterans group, went to Electric Boat on Friday morning to tour the shipyard and meet with the volunteers with the troop support group, who send care packages to soldiers overseas. While there, he said he spoke with a retired submariner about his experiences with the VA.

That veteran had no issues with his care, said Dellinger, who plans to talk with other veterans as he visits American Legion posts throughout the state this weekend.

Dellinger called Monday for Secretary Eric K. Shinseki to step down over allegations that veterans died awaiting care at the VA hospital in Phoenix. Shinseki has said that he will not.

"We just can't stand by and see veterans die," Dellinger said.

The American Legion will continue pressuring the VA to provide the best care possible for veterans, Dellinger said. For the past decade, the Legion has been going into VA hospitals to meet with veterans and staff and assess procedures. The findings are sent to the VA and Congress.

The Phoenix VA Health Care System has been accused by whistleblowers and others of keeping a secret waiting list for primary-care appointments, so that official wait times appeared shorter, while up to 40 patients died while waiting for care.

Shinseki placed three Phoenix executives on administrative leave and directed a review of VA clinics.

Dellinger said Shinseki needs to do more to hold VA employees accountable.

"It's one thing if you're in battle and you die, but when you come home you expect to get the best care possible because you deserve it. You've earned it," Dellinger said. "And we're not seeing that from the VA today."

j.mcdermott@theday.com

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