Veterans’ frustrations evident at VA town hall meeting

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The Department of Veterans Affairs is working to regain the public's trust after reports of long wait times and delayed health care arose earlier this year.

The VA Medical Center of Birmingham hosted a town forum in Huntsville, Monday, to hear feedback and concerns from local veterans.

At times, the exchange became tense.

"For 15 years I was denied access to the health care system. I had to go out and get Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Okay?" said one veteran, asking why the system seemed to overlook Vietnam veterans.

"Every time I went there with the pain I was having I went home with the same pain," said another woman who says she was treated with disrespect every time she sought treatment for back and knee pain.

Director Thomas Smith and other representatives met one-on-one with some veterans after the meeting. He says he understand the lack of faith in the system after a nationwide audit revealed mismanagement at VA facilities earlier this year.

"That's what this meeting is all about. Letting our veterans understand we will put the resources and diligence behind making sure we have appropriate access, in a timely manner to the health care services they've earned and deserved," said Smith.

The town hall is one of many being held around the country as part of the VA's commitment to improve communication with, and hear directly from, veterans.
VA representatives will be there to answer questions and address specific concerns.

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