Family reacts to call for VA resignations

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The National Commander of the American Legion made a bold announcement from the Indianapolis-based National Headquarters.

Commander Daniel Dellinger called for the resignation of the United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs and his top two commanders.

24-Hour News 8 talked to the family of at least one local veteran who believes the change could save lives.

“I feel that he should resign, because he’s not helping the veterans out there. He’s ignoring all of our requests,” said Sharon Hinkerson-Thurman of Indianapolis.

Hinkerson-Thurman reacted to Commander Dellinger calling for VA Secretary Eric Shinskei and his two top commanders to all step down.

“There needs to be a change and that change needs to occur at the top,” Commander Dellinger said.

Commander Dellinger said Monday allegations surfaced in April of a secret waiting list at a Phoenix VA Hospital that may have resulted in the deaths of approximately 40 veterans and this weekend a similar incident in Colorado.

“The VA previously had acknowledged that 23 veterans throughout the health care system had died as a result of delayed care in recent years,” Dellinger said, “It appears as if it’s infected, the entire system is infected.”

“I was shocked that the veterans could be treated that way,” said Hinkerson-Thurman.

Hinkerson-Thurman’s father, Shelton Hinkerson, was a veteran. In November, I-Team 8’s Chief Investigative Reporter Karen Hensel talked with her about a backlog at the VA. Before her father’s death, Hinkerson-Thurman said she took him to the Roudebush VA Hospital to been screened for cancer. She said she asked for appropriate tests to no avail, eventually taking him to the emergency room.

“It came out to be fourth stage cancer a year and a half after I asked the Indianapolis VA hospital primary doctor to do test. Not one time did she do a test for my dad,” she said.

Hinkerson-Thurman believes her own father was failed by the system. Commander Dellinger said this is why the American Legion is calling for the resignations.

“When ever you are talking about a patients life; a veterans life in jeopardy it’s always serious,” he said.

The American Legion has not called for a resignation in over 30 years. Commander Dellinger also blames President Obama and said his administration needs to take steps now and it’s long overdue.

I-Team 8 called the White House Monday afternoon for a statement, but didn’t hear back.

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