Los Angeles officials on Thursday called for change within Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals following revelations that at least 40 former armed forces members died while awaiting treatment at a VA facility in Phoenix.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said veterans should not have to wait months, even years for medical treatment.
"It appalls me to hear these stories," Garcetti said.
The mayor said the least that can done for veterans is to reduce wait times and to give them access to health care.
"That leadership really has to come from Washington," Garcetti said. "It's not one hospital or another. It has to be a changed to system to ensure our veterans are treated like the heroes they are."
Wait times at hospitals in California can be as long as 90 days, and it can take up to eight months to see a specialist at Los Angeles or Long Beach hospitals, mirroring national trends, according to the Orange County Register.
An investigation by the Office of Inspector General is underway at 26 VA facilities.
Anger has been mounting over reports of systemic problems throughout the VA network. On a bench outside the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, someone wrote "you lie" on an advertisement for Veterans Affairs.
Donna M. Beiter, director of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, called the stories "disturbing," and said the medical center strives to provide the best healthcare possible.
"In response to allegations regarding scheduling practices at certain VA sites, VA is visiting all clinics at VA medical centers including VA GLA," Beiter said in a statement. "We welcome the opportunity for an external set of eyes to look at our scheduling operation and offer recommendations for improvement."
Theo Milonopoulos, a write-in candidate for the 33rd congressional district, called for the resignation of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.
"(Veterans) come back to a veterans affairs administration that has left them on the sidelines, that has left them to continue to fight against the war in their own minds, against PTSD all by themselves," Milonopoulos said. "When they call for help, no one is there to pick up the phone."
He said the department has failed veterans.
"Somebody needs to be held accountable," Milonopoulos said.
—City News Service