WASHINGTON -- President Obama announced a new series of executive actions to help veterans Tuesday, telling the American Legion's annual convention in Charlotte that he's instituting a new "culture of accountability" at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"What we've come to learn is that the misconduct we've seen at too many facilities -- with long wait times, and veterans not receiving care, and folks cooking the books -- is outrageous and inexcusable," Obama said.
Today, a new report has shed new light on the wait times for some vets at VA hospitals. NBC Charlotte anchor Dave Wagner spoke exclusively with the new V.A. secretary. WCNC
Obama's executive actions come as the administration prepares for the release of an investigative report into a scandal involving delayed care and falsified records at VA hospitals. That scandal led to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in May and resulted in rare bipartisan effort in Congress to fix veterans health care.
Obama announced a number of executive actions in Charlotte, including:
• A new recruiting campaign to fill shortages of doctors and nurses at VA hospitals.
• Automatically enrolling military personnel receiving mental health care into mental heath treatment programs by the VA.
• A partnership with five national banks to help veterans get lower rate mortgages easier.
• New efforts to better understand traumatic brain injuries, including a $34.4 million VA suicide prevention study involving 1800 veterans at 29 VA hospitals.
In this election year, Hagan tried to distance herself from Obama's policies. WCNC
Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said Obama's actions "fall far short of what's needed to regain the trust of America's veterans."
The administration's claims of accountability don't add up, "especially when no one has been fired as a result of the VA scandal," he said. "What we need from the president right now is more follow-through and less flash when it comes to helping veterans."
The VA scandal erupted in April when a retired doctor at the VA hospital in Phoenix disclosed that long wait times may have contributed to the deaths of as many as 40 veterans. A preliminary investigation found that delays and falsified records were widespread through the VA system.
RAW: Pres. Obama's motorcade passes NBC Charlotte WCNC
This was Obama's fifth time visiting the Charlotte area as president. The last time was when he came to Mooresviille in June of last year. Senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr were there as he landed Tuesday, along with Mayor Clodfelter.
And whenever the President of the United States comes to town, security becomes the top priority. Tuesday's quick stop and speech the the American Legion Convention in Uptown went off without a hitch.
By the time Mr. Obama's motorcade arrived at the Convention Center, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police had used giant dump trucks to block off the roads immediately around the area. Uniformed officers were on every corner and at least a dozen CMPD motorcycles escorted the motorcade.
"For the President of the United States today, I'm not surprised about that much security, in a time of war," said Chastity Kinsler who was walking near the Convention Center.
While there was a lot of visible security, it was not overpowering and office workers who came out for lunch could easily walk up to the Convention Center and try to catch a glimpse of the President's motorcade.
"To me it seems minimal. I thought there would be more security. I'm surprised that we can get this close to where we think the motorcade is going to exit."
CMPD has handled presidential visits before and has had experience with the Democratic National Convention. Officials have always said the key to success is the planning and the execution of the plan.
While there was a lot of visible security, it was not overpowering and office workers who came out for lunch could easily walk up to the Convention Center and try to catch a glimpse of the President's motorcade. WCNC