The Veterans Administration is holding dozens of town hall events at sites across the country. So far the events seem to be reinforcing the idea that many vets are not happy with the VA.
In Kansas, veteran Mike Barofsky took the microphone at a town hall ten days ago and told the Wichita VA Director, “you don’t know what you are doing.” As reported by KSNW-TV, Barofsky added, “To people like myself, your statistics mean absolutely nothing.”
In South Carolina the VA scheduled a town hall in a room meant to hold 80 people. Nearly twice as many showed up forcing the organizers to break the meeting into two separate, shorter events. As reported by The State, veteran Bruce Wright summed up the tone of the meetings saying, “A lot of veterans are saying the VA is just waiting for us to die or to quit trying.”
That sentiment was echoed in Arkansas by veteran Danny Carter. KATV reports that at a town hall held in Little Rock last week Carter said, “I’m running out of time and guess that’s what the VA wants is for me to die and not pay me my benefits.”
At another town hall in Temple, Texas last week a veteran named Lorenzo suggested VA were seemed defensive and detached. The Kileen Daily Herald reports that Sallie Houser-Hanfelder, Director of the Central Texas VA admitted, “we have some customer service issues.”
At a town hall in Murfreesboro, Tennessee a vet named Anthony McCann described how he’d recently requested a copy of his medical records from the VA. What he received, according to a report by WSMV, was “256 pages of another person’s extremely confidential, extremely explicit mental health records.” WZTV has video of McCann pulling the stack of someone else’s records from his bag and showing them to VA representatives.
In New Orleans, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David LaCerte seemed to be the one complaining about the VA system. WWL-TV reports that during a town hall last week LaCerte said, “Speciality care has been a problem within the VA, getting access to physicians within the VA and outside the VA are problems and then non-VA physicians being paid is a huge problem. Some physicians wait three or four years before receiving payment from the VA.”
Finally, there was a similar response in Arizona where the VA scandal began earlier this year with reports that as many as 35 veterans died while waiting for care at the Phoenix VA. ABC 15 interviewed a widow who believes her husband was one of those unfortunate vets. Sonja Nicastro’s husband died in March. Shortly thereafter she received a letter from the VA saying an appointment to see a doctor was available. Here is the full report:
The VA will continue holding similar town hall events around the country through the end of September.