ESSEX COUNTY - President Barack Obama has ordered an investigation of Veterans Administration hospitals following allegations that misconduct resulted in veterans dying as they waited for care, and local vets say the investigation is warranted.
Vietnam veteran Darrell Root says vets have earned the very best treatment. "They gave their time and their life over there and they come and the VA should be responsible for it," he says.
But 26 facilities across the country are being investigated for providing far from the best care. Obama ordered the secretary of Veterans Affairs to investigate claims of cover-ups and treatment delays that may have resulted in 40 preventable deaths at the Phoenix VA hospital.
"If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful," Obama says.
The president said anyone proven to have falsified or manipulated VA records will be punished, but some veterans are skeptical and say problems at the VA go back decades.
"He can't overturn 50 years of abuse by the system," says veteran Bill Salzmann.
New Jersey has two VA hospitals and more than 15 clinics. Veterans say patient care varies from facility to facility.
President Obama wants a preliminary report by the VA next week.
The list of the 26 facilities being investigated by the VA hasn't been released, but News 12 New Jersey has learned that none of the New Jersey facilities are on that list.
For extended video of Obama on the issue, watch the clip to the left or go to News 12 Extra on Optimum TV channel 612.