Local Veterans Sound Off After Latest Round of VA Woes

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Tens of thousands of veterans are waiting months to see a doctor. Now local veterans are sounding off as Congress takes action to try and correct the issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Meghan McCorkell has more on what’s being done to help local veterans.

The American Legion is now opening a Veterans Crisis Command Center here in the Baltimore region to help with those healthcare issues.

Vietnam veteran Marvin Buck says he had a procedure at the VA hospital that left him legally blind.

“I have not been back to the VA since I got copies of my medical records,” he said.

He’s one of dozens of veterans who came to a town hall meeting to speak out about treatment at the VA hospital.

“Listen to the way they talk to us. They act like they’re doing us a favor,” said veteran Alan Hottinger.

The American Legion is now opening a crisis command center in Arbutus after labeling Baltimore’s VA one of the top 10 in need of help.

“Baltimore has had a set of problems. Veterans complain about the long wait times even with the regional office,” said Director of Veterans Affairs at the American Legion Verna Jones.

A new national audit shows 46,000 veterans wait at least three months for an initial appointment; 7,000 asked for appointments and never got one.

This meeting comes as members of Congress announced a new bill to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs. The overhaul would allow veterans who have waited more than 30 days or live more than 40 miles away from a VA facility to see a private physician. It would open 27 new VA facilities and give the secretary more leeway to fire executives.

“Planes and tanks and guns are a cost of war. So is taking care of the men and women who use those weapons and who fight our battles,” said Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Veterans advocates say something needs to happen.

“I believe this country knows what’s best. I believe this country knows it needs to take care of its veterans,” said American Legion Maryland Commander Carolynn G. Baker.

Care, they say, has been lacking.

The crisis command center will be open July 29 from 12-8 p.m., July 30 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., July 31 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and August 1 from 8 a.m. to noon at American Legion Post 109 on Old Sulphur Spring Road in Arbutus.

A vote on the $17.5 billion VA reform bill in Congress is expected by the end of this week.

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