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Sen. Kirk demands state of emergency for Illinois Veterans Affairs

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Sen. Mark Kirk is demanding a state of emergency for Illinois Veteran Affairs. (WLS)

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is calling on the acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs to declare a state of emergency in the Illinois VA system.

Kirk says that too many veterans have had trouble getting urgently needed care.

Retired Army Private Michael Swan served from 1965 to 1966 and was based in Germany. Swan went to the Hines Veterans Hospital for a colonoscopy. It was normal, but he continued to have a lot of bleeding.

Two months later he went to a private doctor

"And they found in excess of about 130 polps," Swan said. "Medically impossible for polps to grow in that two month period."

Swan has suffered a series of strokes and has been waiting more than a year to see a neurologist at Hines. He said he needs medicine for short-term memory loss, and needs to see a doctor for his diabetes.

Kirk's office demanded Hines release the records of how long he waited for care.

Records show from March of 2013 to May of 2014, Hines reported Swan only waited a total of five days to see a doctor. He actually waited 284 days.

Hines also claimed Swan canceled many appointments, but Swan denies this.

"I think Michael's case is a well-documented case of fraud that really hurts Illinois veterans," Kirk said. "There is a systematic corruption of culture at Hines VA. In the case of Hines, you see $16.6 million paid out in bonuses to staff doing such a poor job."

Kirk said generations of Swan's family members have served and continue to serve the country in the military, including his brother, who did six tours of duty in Vietnam and lost his life.

Swan he believes the VA is responsible for many of his medical problems because of unacceptable lapses in care.

"Money is not everything, and you should treat the veterans the way you want to be treated," he said.

Kirk is urging the senate to expedite veterans' access to non-VA healthcare so that veterans can receive timely care.

Currently, the VA does have the authority to use private providers if they are not capable of furnishing the care or services required.

Swan said it would be helpful if he was allowed to seek private healthcare.

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