U.S. Veterans Affairs under fire over allegations vets died waiting for care

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki addresses reporters after testifying...

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki addresses reporters after testifying before a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on VA health care, on Capitol Hill in Washington May 15, 2014. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Jessica Murphy, Senior Washington Correspondent

, Last Updated: 7:08 PM ET

WASHINGTON — It's a portrait of a system struggling under its own weight.

Stacks upon stacks of claims forms crammed into a Veterans Affairs office in Winston-Salem, N.C. — so many they could "create an unsafe workspace ... and appeared to have the potential to compromise the integrity of the building."

The photo, with the astounding warning the files exceeded the floor's load-bearing capacity of 17.6 kg per square foot, was found a 2012 inspector general's report of a regional Veterans Affairs office in Winston-Salem.

It was flagged this week by U.S. media covering the growing furor around allegations 40 veterans died while on the waiting lists at a VA hospital in Phoenix, Ariz., and suggestions administrators developed a secret system to hide treatment delays.

The hospital system serves 6.2 million veterans at hundreds of facilities throughout the U.S. — the largest integrated health-care system in the country.


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