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Veterans advocate says it's time for 'swift accountability' in VA scandal

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Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 15, 2014, prior to testify before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing to examine the state of Veterans Affairs health care. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The deputy director of the VFW Nation Veterans Service said Sunday there needs to be “swift accountability” regarding reports of treatment delays at veterans’ hospitals across the country.

“The families of these veterans need justice and they need it quickly,” Ryan Gallucci said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Gallucci’s comments come on the heels of VA whistle-blower Dr. Sam Foote, a retired doctor who recently shed light on the backlogs and long delays for vets seeking medical treatment. Most recently, accusations of secret waiting lists and document destruction at a Phoenix VA facility have triggered widespread anger across the country. 

On Thursday, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki testified in a Senate hearing on the growing complaints. On Friday, Dr. Robert Petzel, VA undersecretary for health, resigned.

“Petzel should have been forced out right away,” Foote said on “Fox News Sunday.” “He was the chief cover-up artist.”

Critics claim the Obama administration’s response hasn’t been aggressive enough. Petzel, for example, was already planning to retire.

The department initially placed a few officials on leave after reports emerged that up to 40 patients died waiting for care at a Phoenix facility.

"I am committed to strengthening veterans' trust and confidence in their VA health care system," Shinseki said in a statement. 

Top White House aide Denis McDonough told "Face the Nation" that Obama is demanding that Shinseki and others in the administration "continue to fix these things until they're functioning the way that our veterans believe they should." 

The White House chief of staff says President Obama is "madder than hell" about reports of treatment delays at veterans' hospitals across the country.

“I don’t want to jump on the resignation bandwagon, but this has gone from incompetence and a backlog to something criminal,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said on “Meet the Press.”

House Republicans have set a vote for Wednesday on legislation that would give Shinseki greater power to fire or demote executives and administrators at the agency and its 152 medical centers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.