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Obama pledges to uphold 'sacred trust' with U.S. veterans

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At the end of a week rocked by allegations of mismanagement and cover-ups at the Department of Veterans Affairs, President Barack Obama used his weekly address on Saturday to vow again to make sure veterans get the necessary medical care.

"Let's keep working to make sure that our country upholds our sacred trust to all who've served," Obama said in his address, which aired on Memorial Day holiday weekend, when Americans honor their war dead.

"In recent weeks, we've seen again how much more our nation has to do to make sure all our veterans get the care they deserve," he said.

The VA said on Saturday it is taking steps nationally and locally to ensure veterans receive timely care, including providing access to private facilities when necessary.

"Each of our facilities is either enhancing their clinic capacity to help veterans get care sooner, or where we cannot increase capacity, increasing the care we acquire in the community through non-VA care," the agency said in a statement.

Obama responded personally this week to a growing furor that veterans had suffered long delays in receiving healthcare, making clear that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki's job could be on the line.

Shinseki is slated to give Obama the preliminary results of a review of the scope of the problems next week. Obama has assigned Rob Nabors, one of his top aides, to conduct his own look into what happened. Nabors' review is due next month.

The agency's inspector general, an independent watchdog, is also investigating the allegations. Its review is due in August.

Republican lawmakers are planning investigations and have criticized Obama for being slow to respond.

"Now that we've ended the war in Iraq, and as our war in Afghanistan ends as well, we have to work even harder as a nation to make sure all our veterans get the benefits and opportunities they've earned," Obama said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Additional reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Peter Cooney and Steve Orlofsky)

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