Heartland veterans react to VA shortfalls

Heartland veterans react to VA shortfalls

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - We learned the scandal is worse than originally thought in Phoenix, Arizona. A watchdog group says veterans waited, on average, 115 days for care - that's 91 more days than first reported.

An inspector general says more than 1,700 veterans were waiting for medical care, but weren't on any official waiting list.

Veterans here say the clinics and hospitals are crowded, but that's expected because we live in a strong military area.

Charles Thrower Jr, a Vietnam veteran, said he goes to the VA clinic in Cape Girardeau.

He said he gets a check up at the VA every six months and whenever he's sick. Thrower said big cities can have a problem with seeing patients because there are more of them.

He said he'd like to see the VA add more staff members, something Thrower said the agency already knows is a problem.

"Until they realize they've got these problems and put some money behind it, it's not going to fix itself," Thrower said. "I won't. I can guarantee that. I know they have problems nationally and some of your larger institutions are gonna have problems and if the VA doesn't throw more money at this thing, that's the problem they are going to have. They need more doctors and they know that and they are just him-hauling around. They've got to do something about that."

Steven Nelson says it's was his duty to serve our country. He believes it's his same duty and other veterans that are able to make sure change comes to the VA.

He doesn't think the former leader of the Veterans affairs knew about everything that may have been going on. Nelson does believe this is only the beginning and even more will come out.

"I mean how can we ask them and do what they are doing with knowing they are not going to get the care they were promised and at this point it's in question you know," Nelson said.

Some are calling for a criminal investigation into fraudulent record-keeping to cover up delays at VA hospitals.

President Obama said Friday that would be up to the Justice Department, which has been collecting information but has not launched any investigation.

We also checked in with some state agencies to see what wait times are like there.

The Missouri Veteran's commission home in Cape has a 304 person waiting list. A spokesperson said they accept patients based on their needs and type of care required.

The Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs home in Anna is at capacity and a spokesperson tells us the home typically has a waiting list of about 100 people.

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