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Sen. McCain participates in veterans forum to discuss controversy

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

It's a developing story making headlines across the country: accusations of mismanagement, neglect and even a secret waiting list at the Phoenix VA hospital.

Senator John McCain held an open forum about the VA investigation on Friday.

In a room filled with veterans and their families, the senator promised results, but stopped short of joining the growing chorus of lawmakers calling for the VA secretary to step down.

"If these allegations are true, they are a violation of the law and it is not a matter of resignations, it is a matter of someone going to jail or not," said McCain.

In the crowd, widows of veterans who died waiting for care.

"Every time my husband reached out to the VA, they just kept telling him to be patient.  I am here to tell you my dead veteran husband can't be much more patient than he is today. But me, I am pissed," said Vicky Olson.

From one veteran, accusations that the senator could have done something sooner.

"These are all people.  We are not a number.  We are proud Americans.  We served our country and all we are asking is that you do what we did for you," said Gabriel Bossel, a Vietnam war veteran.

After the event, McCain defended his response.

"There was never an allegation.. recently there was a secret list, now there are many allegations.. factual ones, of delays in receiving care and we have been arguing and advocating about that for a long long time," he said.

So far, three top Phoenix VA leaders have been put on leave, including the director, Sharon Helman, who McCain says denied any involvement when the two met three weeks ago.

"I have to say that I am very skeptical in light of information that we have and they have a lot of explaining to do," he said.

For more on the VA deaths investigation and to see more stories on this topic, go to myfoxphoenix.com/va.

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