Six veterans’ groups are demanding the Department of Veterans Affairs improve the quality of care at its nursing homes following a story by USA TODAY and The Boston Globe detailing “blatant disregard for veteran safety” at a VA nursing home in Massachusetts. Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Vietnam Veterans of America joined AmVets and the Legion in calling for action. Together, the groups are known as the “big six” and wield considerable clout in Washington. The groups, who together represent nearly 5 million members, said veterans who risked their lives for our country shouldn’t have to risk their lives in VA nursing homes. The story was the latest in an investigation by USA TODAY and the Globe that revealed care at many VA nursing facilities was worse than at private nursing homes in the agency’s own internal ratings, kept secret from veterans for years.

Anybody who respects veterans should be angered by this,” American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad said. “America’s veterans deserve better.”

In Brockton, Massachusetts, investigators found two nurses asleep during their shifts, even though the facility knew it was under scrutiny and inspectors were coming to visit, looking for potential signs of patient neglect. A whistleblower had reported that nurses and aides did not empty the bedside urinals of frail veterans, they failed to provide clean water at night and didn’t check on the veterans regularly.

 “The stories being reported about the treatment of some individual veterans at these facilities are nothing short of horrifying,” said Rege Riley, national commander of American Veterans, known as AmVets. He called on VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to “take swift and transparent action to fix this.”

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