Vets flood American Legion seeking help with care

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PHOENIX (AP) — The nation's largest veterans group has set up a crisis center in Phoenix to help veterans get medical care in a first-of-its-kind event in the American Legion's nearly 100-year history.

The move comes amid growing criticism of the Veterans Affairs Department's handling of patient care nationwide and allegations of misconduct.

A VA audit this week showed more than 57,000 new patients had to wait at least three months for initial appointments.

Gene Stoesser, a 71-year-old Vietnam veteran, says he has been waiting weeks for heart surgery and is worried he may die in the meantime. Stoesser showed up at the crisis center Tuesday hoping to find some help.

The American Legion says it will operate the crisis center in Phoenix through Friday and expects to assist hundreds of veterans.

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