Temple VA: More Internal Emails Revealed; Lawmakers Look for Sto - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Temple VA: More Internal Emails Revealed; Lawmakers Look for Stop-Gap

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(KCEN) - New internal emails from our source inside the Temple VA shed more light on recent allegations employees were asked to lie to veterans about why their appointments were being canceled.

And so far, there hasn't been much of a response from the facility's leadership. We contacted them multiple times Thursday, and have yet to hear a response to these allegations.

KCEN first broke the story last week about new allegations from a source within the Temple VA. Since then, that source tells us emails from executives have become much less frequent.

He says it's "eerily quiet, almost spooky."

Now he's provided more information from last fall: Another internal email shows employees were told to cancel veterans' appointments to schedule current soldiers for disability evaluations.

Part of the email reads, "When calling patients ensure you do not tell them you are canceling for another patient..."

"The real mission here is the individual vet, and the individual vet is not getting the kind of services that he fought for and he deserves," U.S. Congressman John Carter, R-31, said in an interview at the KCEN studio Thursday.

The national VA apparently disagrees.

Our source also gave us an email sent at the end of April from the Central Texas VA system director. It congratulates employees on winning a Leadership in Excellence Robert W. Carey Performance Excellence Award.

The end of that email reads, "This award is yours for you all truly exemplify Leadership in Excellence. I am proud to be on your Team."

This, as the medical center is accused of manipulating schedules to boost performance ratings and possible executive bonuses.

"If the allegations are true that this is continuing and ongoing in Temple," Carter said, "quite honestly, no, they don't deserve [the award]. In fact they deserve a pat on the hand, or maybe a jail cell."

And with employees starting to speak out, our source says it "almost feels like the rabbit has the gun now."

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn's office sent us a statement Thursday in response to some of these new allegations. In part, it renews his call for a full FBI investigation.

Lawmakers also say the system is broken, and there's not a clear fix in sight. The Temple VA is one of dozens around the country marred by alleged scandals, and now questions turn to what to do about it.

"There's allegations that could have a criminal nature as a result of all this," Carter said.

Now a group of senators, including Cornyn, says they're not waiting for the VA to come up with solutions. The group is backing a bill they say will increase options for veterans.

Called the Veterans Choice Act, it would allow vets to get care from other providers outside the scope of the VA.

A statement accompanying a news release from Cornyn's office reads, "This bill will also bring much-needed transparency and accountability to the VA as we look to make lasting reforms."

What those lasting reforms will be is anybody's guess, but Gov. Rick Perry is also pushing for outside help for vets.

A letter he co-authored with five other governors and sent to President Obama reads, "...they should be granted federal vouchers to seek that care from other healthcare providers."

The governors also ask the President to give states more oversight and suspend the bonus system.

"As long as we, the American people, keep the VA first, not the system first," Carter said, "we'll come up with the right solutions."


Temple Mayor Danny Dunn expressed his support for the Temple VA Thursday.

He told KCEN the medical center is an "important partner" in the city, and he believes they're "doing everything they can" to correct the problems.
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