Last year a national audit revealed severe delays in service by VA hospitals and clinics. Additional allegations surfaced of mismanagement and secret waiting lists.
Frank Donahue, a veteran and member of the Marine Corps League, stood up during the meeting and said the VA told him he would have to wait 14 months for a tooth ache.
One problem that came up frequently is the distance Grant County veterans have to travel for health care. The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 was, presumably, going to help rural veterans, like those living in Grant County, who are far away from most large veteran service facilities, to be able to use local doctors instead of needing to travel all the way to Albuquerque, Tucson, El Paso, or Alamagordo for their care. However, one of the rules of the new act, which went into affect in late November, prevents many Grant County veterans from being able to make use of it. The act states that a veteran must live more than 40 miles from a VA clinic. Because a VA clinic does exist here in Silver City, most local veterans are excluded from the rule. But the Silver City veteran’s clinic does not have specialists, so many veterans will still have to make those long trips to Albuquerque, El Paso or Alamagordo for their care.
That hurts for one woman who stood up to tell Welch and the crowd of about 80 people about her 90-year-old dad who is a World War II veteran and has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He has had to go to El Paso for evaluations.