May 24, 2016 4:28 PM
CHICAGO (CBS) – Local veterans expressed anger on Tuesday after the head of Veteran’s Affairs compared long wait times at VA hospitals to lines for amusement rides and Disney.
CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports, the fallout started after Bob McDonald said this o reporters on Monday:
“When you go to Disney, do they measure the hours you wait in line?” Bob McDonald told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington on Monday. “What’s important? What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience?”
That didn’t sit well with some of the 700,000 or so Illinois veterans.
“It’s disappointing; it’s wrong. It should have never been said,” said James Balcer, a Marine veteran and former alderman. “It’s as simple as that.”
Balcer was one of more than a dozen vets who gathered days before Memorial Day to discuss their needs.
“You sometimes have to wait a month or two months in order to get seen,” said Frank B Thomson III. “The waiting is entirely too long.”
The two candidates for the U.S. Senate in Illinois were both unhappy.
Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, said: “The secretary should be embarrassed for making such a comparison.”
Democrat U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth: “The statement is unbelievably tone deaf and hurtful to American heroes.”
Army veteran Rochelle Crump said, “Our veterans would rather be at Disney World but unfortunately they can’t go because they’re sick and they are ill.”
Today, McDonald told NBC News, “If I said the wrong thing, I’m glad I have the opportunity to correct it.”