Sanders stretched truth on VA record during debate, some vets say

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U.S. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, gestures as he speaks at the Californi Democrats State Convention in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, April 30, 2011.  Sanders called on Democrats to work together to stop what he calls the GOP's attack on the middle class.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, gestures as he speaks at the Californi Democrats State Convention in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, April 30, 2011. Sanders called on Democrats to work together to stop what he calls the GOP’s attack on the middle class.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(CNN)Sen. Bernie Sanders touted his record on veterans’ issues during Tuesday’s debate, citing his position as the former chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs when Congress provided billions of extra dollars to boost healthcare for veterans last year.

“We went further in than any time in recent history in improving health care to the men and women of this country who put their lives on the line to defend us,” Sanders said Tuesday, referring to $15 billion given to the Department of Veterans Affairs to decrease wait times and reform the troubled agency.

Yet some veterans groups and others criticize Sanders for what they call a lack of oversight of the VA, and for at times coming to its defense in the midst of the scandal that rocked the agency in 2014.

Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said Sanders largely ignored the appeals of organizations like his during a time when media and government reports exposed how veterans were waiting months for appointments and VA officials were covering up the delays.

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