EDISON - A New Jersey lawmaker is pushing a bill to help veterans get timely care in the wake of the scandal that cost the U.S. Veterans Affairs secretary his job.

Secretary Eric Shineski resigned Friday after an audit revealed as many as 1,700 veterans were placed on waiting lists or were never scheduled for appointments at VA hospitals. The delays reportedly cost dozens of lives.

Rep. Frank LoBiondo is pushing a bill that would allow veterans to seek care at local hospitals, with the VA picking up the tab. That way, they could avoid delays waiting for openings at VA hospitals. The bill would start as a pilot program in South Jersey.

However, in some parts of New Jersey at least, the bill may not be necessary. Vietnam veteran Ralph Corno, 68, says he went to a local hospital when he thought he was having a heart attack. Fortunately, the VA took care of his bills without question.

Corno, who was an infantryman in Vietnam and is treated for PTSD, says New Jersey's VA is ahead of the curve, partly because of its veterans.
"We watch what's going on in the VA and if we see something wrong, we right away go to the director," he said.