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Obama reiterates commitment to veterans during visit at Phoenix VA

PHOENIX — President Barack Obama told a group of former servicemembers and Arizona state leaders Friday that the government was making progress correcting issues in the care of veterans.

Obama made his second visit to the Valley since January for a meeting at the Carl T. Hayden Medical Center at Sixth Street and Indian School Road in central Phoenix.

Former VA secretary also attended the meeting, as did U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

The Phoenix VA facility was a focal point of a national investigation into allegations of long wait times to see a doctor that caused the deaths of at least 40 veterans.

The inquiry revealed a coverup that included falsifying appointment dates and led to a criminal probe by the FBI.

VA leadership said improvements have been made to the troubled system. More than 37 million appointments had been cleared last year between May-Dec. 31.

Hours at clinics were extended, and wait times had been reduced. Leaders at various hospitals were replaced at the majority of the facilities.

The president arrived to discuss these adjustments a few minutes behind schedule.

Air Force One touched down at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport around 11:30 a.m. Gov. Doug Ducey greeted the president on the tarmac. After shaking hands with assembled invited guests, Obama was whisked away to the hospital.

Obama flew to Phoenix from the West Coast. He was in Los Angeles on Thursday to
attend a Democratic Party fundraiser and tape an appearance on ABC’s late-night
show “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.