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President Obama to focus on VA needs during Phoenix visit

PHOENIX — President Barack Obama will visit with Arizona’s war veterans and lawmakers Friday at the Phoenix VA hospital to discuss post-scandal progress within the federal department.

The president visited the Valley in January but did not stop at the Carl T. Hayden Medical Center, which was the epicenter of a nationwide scandal surrounding inadequate care at VA facilities.

Many veterans and state leaders decried the fact that Obama didn’t visit the hospital.

Phoenix’s VA hospital was among the worst offenders when it came to long wait times for doctor appointments. It was also revealed that internal memos discussed falsifying reports.

The fallout cost then-VA chief Eric Shinseki his job, but before he resigned he fired the leadership at the Phoenix hospital.

Obama will be joined by new VA Secretary Robert McDonald. U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, the two Republican senators from Arizona.

McCain, a Navy veteran, has been especially critical of the administration’s response to the VA’s troubles.

The president was expected to announce the formation of an advisory committee that will focus on improving the VA’s response to veterans’ needs.

Committee members will come from the private section, nonprofits and government.

The president is scheduled to land at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport around 11:15 a.m. and will leave town around 3:30 p.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.