VA chief McDonald to visit Philadelphia facilities

Posted: September 05, 2014

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald will visit Philadelphia on Friday to meet with veterans, employees, and stakeholders at both the city's VA hospital and benefits office.

The visit, announced Wednesday, is the third by a top agency official to Philadelphia in the last three months and comes as the city's VA system faces multiple controversies.

Last week, the newly installed McDonald apologized and ordered a systemwide review of training programs in response to a guide at the city's benefits office that appeared to liken veterans to Oscar the Grouch. McDonald said any comparison to the cranky Sesame Street character who lives in a trash can was "clearly contrary" to the agency's mission.

But he declined through an agency spokeswoman to say whether he agreed with the center's director, Diana Rubens, who said it compared employees, not veterans, to the Muppet.

The VA has not released a full itinerary for McDonald's visit. He will meet with members of Congress and their staffs at the hospital in University City at 1:15 p.m., according to a travel advisory sent to congressional staff, followed by a news conference.

The hospital, benefits center in Germantown, and the VA clinic in Horsham are all under investigation by the VA Office of Inspector General following allegations that staff have been encouraged to manipulate appointment and claim dates to hide delays in service.


tnadolny@phillynews.com

610-313-8205

@TriciaNadolny

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