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Kirk calls on VA official to declare emergency

Published: Friday, June 13, 2014 4:13 p.m. CDT

CHICAGO (AP) — U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is calling for accelerated access to doctors for veterans facing extreme wait times for treatment within the Veterans Affairs system.

The Illinois Republican sent a letter Friday to Sloan Gibson, the acting VA secretary, asking him to use his authority to declare a state of emergency to open up non-agency health care to veterans enduring delays.

Kirk appeared in Chicago with retired U.S. Army Pvt. Michael Swan, who says he's been waiting more than a year to see a specialist.

A government audit shows more than 57,000 veterans have been waiting at least three months for their first appointments at Veterans Affairs medical centers. The VA lifted a goal of 14 days to get an appointment, after investigators determined workers falsified records to cover up delays.

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