Sestak seeks release of VA reports

The Tribune-Review has published stories on two critical inspection reports for the Philadelphia center that were obtained in response to federal Freedom of Information Act requests.

Citron, who became director less than three years ago, announced this week that he was retiring, effective May 1. The announcement followed by days critical comments by Sestak about the withholding of inspection reports. Aides said Citron's announcement was unrelated to the comments.

Citron spokesman Dale Warman said yesterday's meeting was "very positive" and "they agreed to continue working together and communicating."

Sestak, who is seeking to defeat Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary, said Citron had agreed to meetings between his staff and retired Navy Capt. William Walsh, a member of his congressional staff, to go over the reports and determine which can be made public.

"We have to have transparency now," Sestak said in a telephone interview. "We're going to sit down and go through them."

He said that if local VA officials were unable or unwilling to release all of the reports, he would take the matter to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

Sestak said he wants to be able to assure veterans that any problems have been corrected, "but I can't do that if I can't see what's in the closet."

Last week, the Tribune-Review disclosed details of a 2007 report that cited major deficiencies in the thoracic surgery unit in the Philadelphia center. An earlier report cited problems in a nursing home unit.

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