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Acting VA Secretary Visits Baltimore In Wake Of Shocking Audit

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(Photo by Laura Segall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Laura Segall/Getty Images)

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s a story that continues to raise eyebrows across the country. A scathing audit of the VA nationwide reveals thousands of vets waited months just to get doctor appointments. Tuesday, the acting secretary of Veterans Affairs visited Baltimore’s Medical Center.

Rick Ritter has more on what leaders are doing to fix the problem at the VA.

The acting secretary says the plan is to add more physicians to Baltimore’s VA Center. He noted that the center is further along than others across the country, but there’s still plenty of work that has to be done.

Falsifying records. Thousands of veterans waited months just for medical care.

“Basically, they told me it would be six months before I could get my surgery,” said Master Sgt. Steve Klein.

When the shocking audit results went public last week, veterans wasted no time in lashing out.

“They’re in it for a paycheck,” said one.

And WJZ tracked down the local chief of staff to ask the tough questions.

“We need to make sure that we look at the numbers of positions that we need to fill,” said the deputy chief of staff.

Now we’re hearing from Acting Secretary of Veteran Affairs Sloan Gibson, who visited Baltimore’s VA Center and labeled the loss of trust of veterans unacceptable.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that we’ve seen a major erosion of that trust,” said Sloan Gibson.

Gibson met with the local staff and even addressed concerns from Congressman Elijah Cummings.

“All of us have been extremely concerned about the way that veterans have been treated,” said Cummings.

There’s no noted problems in Baltimore with falsifying records but the acting secretary says there’s no denying the wait times. According to the audit, to receive a primary care appointment at the Baltimore VA Medical Center is 81 days and specialty care is nearly 44 days.

“We’ve still got wait times that are too long here,” Gibson said.

Gibson says Baltimore’s Health Center is looking to add five new primary care physicians, the only way to trim those waiting lists down.

“That’s our number one priority,” said Gibson.

And to earn veterans’ trust back.

“I don’t expect it to be easy. I don’t expect anyone to give it back,” said Gibson.

Gibson added they’re going to release new data either later Tuesday night or Wednesday to see if they’ve made more progress with wait times.

The Department of Veterans Affairs say they’re continuing to contact vets across the country to get them off of wait lists and into clinics.

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