New VA Secretary Bob McDonald is promising to fix the broken promises made to the country's sick veterans, but even he said that a five-year wait for a new clinic in Phoenix is too long.
The announcement Thursday that Phoenix would be getting a new $20 million state-of-the-art VA clinic that can service some 120,000 vets sounded encouraging.
But it has a target date of 2019.
"We've got to do everything we can to accelerate the period of time it takes to build a new clinic," McDonald said on a visit to Phoenix on Friday.
McDonald has been on the job one week and he said it was important to make Phoenix his first stop.
"When (the proposed clinic) was first scoped, we thought it would be 200,000 square feet," McDonald said. "We need now 300,000 square feet. (We) can work on that but we've got to get it done more quickly."
Before meeting with the media Friday, McDonald toured the current facility. He said he heard the good and the bad about the clinic.
"And as you know, veterans also told me that they're waiting too long to be seen. And that's simply unacceptable," McDonald said.
There was a lot of the same talk about the progress being made to address the crisis: hiring more staff and a review of the systems and a push for culture change.
"Give us a chance to try to understand what's going on," McDonald said. "Get to the bottom of it, take the appropriate action. And we will work openly and transparently with a tremendous amount of integrity to get this done. "
McDonald, the former CEO of Proctor & Gamble, said that he believes solving this crisis is doable, and relatively quickly.
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