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Coast Veterans Express Frustration About VA Problems

By Evelina Burnett | Published 08 Jul 2014 10:15pm | comments
Congressman Steven Palazzo speaks to a veteran at a forum in Biloxi July 8.

Some Coast Veterans are speaking out about how to fix the scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs. MPB’s Evelina Burnett was at a forum yesterday in Biloxi attended by about 100 veterans and their families.

Twenty-two-year Army veteran Ray Pettway says he wants to see the VA’s whistleblower policies strengthened and more access to private care for vets facing long wait times. He says his own claim was denied because the VA incorrectly interpreted his service record.

"And you know what makes it so bad? It looks like the information was cut-and-pasted off another denial," he says. "It seems like they are purposely keeping the dollars out of the veterans' pockets. We have no lobbyists in Congress. They are lobbying for the rifle association, they are lobbying for the Tea Party. Who is lobbying for the veterans? I actually tell you, they are waiting for us to die rather than collect one thin dime. That is exactly how I feel."

Pettway was far from alone in expressing his frustration with the VA. Many in the audience also said they want to hold accountable those responsible for delays in care, and the apparent cover-ups of those problems. The event's organizer, Mississippi Fourth District Congressman Steven Palazzo agreed:

"The events that have taken place in Phoenix, Arizona, are not isolated," Palazzo says. "They're systematic and nationwide. The purpose of the hearing today is to gather up more stories so I can go back to Washington, D.C., and work with the chairman of the VA committee and make sure that we institute the reforms necessary to where our veterans are getting the health care that they've earned and that they deserve."

Of course, not everyone at the forum had bad experiences with the VA. Navy veteran Bob Caffrey of Pascagoula says he has had great care through the Biloxi VA.

"I've been coming to the VA hospital here, the clinic, for 15 years, and I've had absolutely wonderful treatment,"  he says. "They saved my life, they caught my prostate cancer real early. I just came over to say thank you."

Palazzo says he hopes there will be a final vote later this month on a bill addressing the problems at the VA.
 

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Congressman Steven Palazzo speaks to a veteran at a forum in Biloxi July 8.


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