Following a string of suspicious deaths at a West Virginia VA hospital, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie assured patients of their safety and said they can comfortably seek care under the banner of the federal government.
"They are safe," he said Thursday on "Outnumbered Overtime." "Even with the information that we have outside of the criminal investigation, people at VA have been -- it looks like the victim[s] of a crime. We have 400,000 employees, and the notion that something like this would be widespread just strains credulity."
The Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, West Virginia has been linked to two deaths involving unnecessary insulin injections, and which were recently ruled homicides, according to USA Today. Ten cases from the center are being investigated to see if there are any links among them.
Wilkie called on the inspector general to investigate the matter thoroughly and swiftly so the victims' families and the public can put their uncertainty to rest.
"The biggest thing that we can do -- and I agree with Sen. [Joe] Manchin... this inspector general has to get us the answers," he said. "It looks to me like they've been the victims of a crime, but we haven't received those conclusions from the criminal authorities."
Wilkie said the VA has been kept mostly out of the loop, learning most of their information from the media. But he also praised President Trump for prioritizing the issue of veterans' health care.
"We are learning what we know from the media," he said. "It is time for the inspector general, who is not controlled by me or the White House, to finally end this investigation to answer the questions that our grieving families have. It's been far too long... This president has given so much attention to the VA, [and] he expects all of us to be in on the reforms and he expects that even of the independent inspector general."
The two victims have been identified as 81-year-old Air Force veteran George Nelson Shaw Sr., and 82-year-old Felix Kirk Mcdermott, who both died in 2018.
"Thank you for mentioning the names of those who've carried the burden for our country," Wilkie told "Outnumbered Overtime." "They deserve much better."