FAYETTEVILLE - While admitting systemic problems, the new head of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says the vast majority of the employees at his beleaguered agency are not the issue.
Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson spoke Thursday in Fayetteville, home to a medical center with one of the country's worst average waiting times for veterans seeking primary care treatment.
Gibson recounted changes the agency is making to address the issue as he gave an emotional defense of VA employees, the vast majority of whom he described as working harder for less pay than similarly qualified medical professionals in the private sector.
The VA released an internal audit this week showing patients at the Fayetteville center wait an average of 29 days for a primary care appointment. New patients wait 83 days.
The head of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is visiting Fayetteville, home to a VA medical center with one of the country's worst waiting times for primary care treatment.
Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson is scheduled to meet Thursday with the leadership and employees of the Fayetteville VA Medical Center.
Gibson's visit comes days after the VA this week released the results on an internal audit showing that patients at the Fayetteville medical center wait an average of 29 days for a primary care appointment. New patients wait 83 days, third worst in the country.
A VA hospital in Durham has reported a wait time of over 3 and a half months for new patients, worst in the country.
Officials said the delays were caused by an overstressed system.
Gibson became VA head last month after Eric Shinseki resigned following allegations that veterans died while waiting for care at a Phoenix VA Medical Center.