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US: Some Military Veterans Waited 115 Days for Health Appointments

A group of U.S. veterans await a clothing giveaway at St. Anthony Foundation in San Francisco, California November 8, 2013.
A new U.S. investigation has confirmed allegations of widespread shortcomings in the medical treatment the country provides for its military veterans, with some patients forced to wait an average of 115 days before their first appointment with a health care provider.

The White House said Wednesday that President Barack Obama found the new findings "extremely troubling." Key lawmakers overseeing U.S. veterans affairs demanded that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resign.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had claimed that patients at its medical facility in the western city of Phoenix, Arizona waited an average of 24 days for an appointment. But the agency's investigative arm found that the typical wait for an appointment was nearly four months.

The investigation also showed that at least 1,700 veterans waiting for health care at the Phoenix facility were not on an official wait list for appointments and were at risk of being forgotten about in the hospital's complicated scheduling system.

But the investigators said the scheduling problems extended far beyond Phoenix, calling them a "systemic problem nationwide."

Obama last week said he would not tolerate poor health care for the nation's military veterans. He defended Shinseki's performance as the agency's chief, but said he would be held accountable for the agency's shortcomings.

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