Acting VA Secretary speaks to veterans in STL

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - After a year riddled with scandal, local veterans got the chance to hear from the acting head of the VA Tuesday about what he's doing to fix the department.

Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson gave his speech to the National VFW Convention at the America's Center.

One of the biggest focuses of his speech was the need for accountability in the department.

"Where there is evidence confirmed of woeful misconduct or management negligence, we will hold people accountable for that behavior," Gibson told the audience.

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Gibson also emphasized the need to fix what's broken in the VA and the importance of restoring veterans' faith in the system.

He told the crowd that hiring freezes had gone into effect in certain parts of the department and that some employees would not get bonuses as well.

"I've suspended all VHA Senior executive performance awards for 2014," he said.

NewsChannel 5 talked to veterans about the speech after Gibson delivered it. While a number of people conveyed a wait and see approach, others said they were left inspired.

"I thought I heard a pretty good plan," veteran Michael Perini said.

Gibson will tour the VA Medical Center in St. Louis at 3 p.m. You can check for a live stream of that event as it happens.

A parade will also be held to honor veterans at 5 pm downtown. It will step off from America's Center and then progress along Washington Avenue and Tucker Boulevard before ended at the Soldiers' Memorial. A rally will then be held at that site.


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