Veterans in region still wary of VA, study shows



By Adam Smeltz

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald renewed his apology Wednesday for a fatal Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Allegheny County, vowing to make the nation’s largest hospital system more transparent, efficient and responsive.

His pledge coincided with research findings that suggest less than half of southwestern Pennsylvania veterans are happy with the VA and other services meant for them. Survey participants clocked a 38 percent satisfaction rate that’s similar to national trends, but analysts found that distrust in the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System remains especially sharp, in part because of the outbreak tied to six veteran deaths in 2011 and 2012.

“This is really a tragedy. We can’t change what happened in the past, but we can learn from our past mistakes,” Mr. McDonald said in a media briefing at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. He is scheduled to speak there today as part of the National Veterans Small Business engagement, a three-day summit to help veteran-owned businesses win federal contracts.

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