DENVER (CBS4) – A Colorado congressman has been calling for the secretary of veterans affairs to step down.

Rep. Mike Coffman is ramping up the pressure amid allegations dozens of veterans died waiting too long for appointments and treatment at Veterans Affairs hospitals.

Coffman, a Republican who is also a veteran, says the problem is happening at VA hospitals around the country, including in Colorado.

“The American people have let the veterans down,” Vietnam veteran Artie Guerrero said.

Guerrero is tired of wait lists and pain killers of a VA hospital system he says is leaving its soldiers behind.

“People are waiting for surgeries up to six months, for surgeries, five and six months, and having to find other entities to take care of their problems,” Guerrero said.

Accusations that the wait lists were hidden and that dozens of veterans died as a result in Phoenix have Coffman angry as well. He says the only solution is for Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign.

“I think when you have a losing team you fire the coach, and what we have is a losing team,” Coffman said.

He says the VA’s failures are obvious in Colorado’s backyard. The new medical facility in Aurora is $500 million over budget and mired in litigation. A team from the Office of the Inspector General arrived at the hospital in Cheyenne, Wyo. this week to investigate charges of fraud there.

US Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Erik K. Shinseki (credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

US Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Erik K. Shinseki (credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

“It’s stunning, and it’s hard to say what appears to be one of the most, if not the most dysfunctional agencies within the federal government, is the one that we entrust to take care of the men and women who serve this nation,” Coffman said.

“We’ve done our job, we went to war and we’ve come back, and now we have physical and mental problems,” Guerrero said. “Now take care of us.”

Shinseki was grilled in a Senate hearing on Thursday. His response is that there are two formal investigations currently underway and that nobody wants the results more than he does.

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