President Obama is making a trip this Friday to the Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital that was the center of a national scandal over lengthy wait-times at VA facilities.
Obama was bashed by critics in January when he came to visit Phoenix but did not stop at the hospital, despite his motorcade driving right past it.
Pete Hegseth, the head of a group called Concerned Veterans for America, said at the time that the move was a "slap in the face to veterans."
"For months veterans have been waiting, not only for their appointments and benefits, but for their president to show leadership and true concern for fixing the VA," he said. "But with veterans in front of the hospital urging he visit, President Obama made abundantly clear that their fate and the VA scandal are now literally in his rear view mirror."
Well before that, in May of 2014, an Obama aide tasked with reviewing the problems at the VA did visit the Phoenix facility, where it was alleged that several dozen veterans died while on a wait list to see a doctor.
The White House didn't say much about Friday's planned visit, other than that the president will be meeting with hospital administrators.
"I am pleased that President Obama has finally decided to visit veterans at the Phoenix VA this week, nearly one year after reports first surfaced about Arizona veterans dying due to VA mismanagement and two months after the president's motorcade drove directly past the Phoenix VA without stopping," Senator John McCain says in a statement. "Our veterans community in Arizona has been deeply disappointed by the Obama Administration's slow implementation of the bipartisan VA reform legislation passed last year."
The Concerned Veterans for America group also welcomes Obama's visit.
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"To our knowledge, this is President Obama's first public visit to a VA facility since 2010, and we urge him to use it as an opportunity to send a clear signal to VA leadership nationwide that it is the needs of the veteran - not the VA bureaucracy - that are paramount," says Dan Caldwell, the organization's political director. "It is past time for this White House to embrace real VA reforms that ensure veterans receive the care that they deserve and to address head on the problems that have caused the undue suffering of hundreds of thousands of veterans across the country."
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