The Central Texas Veterans Affairs department is inviting local veterans and their families to a town hall meeting, in hopes of addressing veteran concerns.
The meeting, which will be held at 5:30 on Thursday at building 171 on the Temple VA campus, will give veterans an opportunity to raise questions, comments and concerns to VA officials. Hospital staff and some congressional staff is also expected to field questions from attendees.
"I want them to express their concerns," said Public Affairs Officer, Deb Meyer. "[It's to] let them, let us know what we're doing right and what we're doing wrong."
The department has been under fire in recent months after patients across the country have brought problems of extreme wait times for treatment, in some cases leading to the death of veterans. Town halls have been held in other facilities around the state and have raised issues like difficulty with the automated telephone system, dealing with doctors and parking and accessibility problems. Veterans in central Texas said dealing with wait times was also their largest concern.
"If I walk in, I need an appointment in a week, not a 90 days down the road. I could go blind in those 90 days," said Ruthmell Pursley, the commander at VFW 3892 in Harker Heights, who uses the VA to help treat vision complications from diabetes.
Pursley said he is also concerned that doctors and staff members don't understand what veterans are dealing with both mentally and physically because a majority of them are not veterans themselves.
"90 percent of the people there aren't veterans. They couldn't care less about a veteran," Pursley said.
According to Meyer, more than 40 percent of the staff has served in the military and many have family ties to veterans or active duty members.
"I think that when this is over we'll see better care," said Meyer. "Always when there's change we see improvement."
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