Feb 02, 2016 / Defense/Veterans

Our Vets Matter

I want to thank each and every one of you who took part in our recent survey, “How do we make the Department of Veterans Affairs Better?” Your comments, ideas and suggestion will help me make better decisions about the VA and our future help to Veterans and their family members.

More than 750 Veterans took the time to complete the survey and return it, 90 percent of whom gave us contact information. I would like to share with you some of the results you gave us.

  • What grade would you give the VA?
    • A – 18%
    • B – 25%
    • C – 23%
    • D – 16%
    • F – 17%
  • How long have you have to wait to get treatment?
    • Fast – 16%
    • Acceptable Service – 49%
    • Poor Service – 26%
    • A dangerous situation from long wait – 9%
  • Have you used the Veterans Choice Program?
    • A. No – 37%
    • B. Yes – 21%
    • C. I don’t know what this is – 42%

We also received several hundred comments about your VA care, and several of you took the time to write detailed letters. We have already contacted more than 60 Veterans that identified specific problems and are trying to help them resolve those issues.

In the survey, you said the number one concern is the new Choice Program. The Choice Program was meant to be a way to help Veterans receive care more easily. Clearly, the VA has some work to do with its implementation.

The Choice Program was put into place in response to the excessive waiting times that Veterans endured when trying to get their care. Many Veterans would wait months or even years on long waiting lists. Some even died while trying to get care. Congress acted to give the VA resources to address those waiting lists. Unfortunately, more than a year later the VA is struggling to correct its problems, and, in many instances, wait times have worsened.

Through Choice, Veterans should be able to get an appointment in the community within 30 days. Unfortunately, too often this still isn’t the case. I will never give up; every Veteran must receive the care they’ve earned and need. I need your help, though, to let me know where the problems are.

For your reference, below I have listed the VA Web Page, which gives an extensive overview of the Choice Program and how to navigate the system to obtain care. There is also an “app” which allows you to see if you are qualified for the program. If you have further questions, call the VA Choice Hotline or the local VA hospital near you and ask for the Choice Champion. They should help you with any questions you may have. If you cannot find the answer you are looking for, please contact my office at 509-353-2374, and we will get the answer for you.

I am working very hard to ensure that you, the Veteran, get the quality care and services that you earned by your service to our great nation. I appreciate your help in working with me to identify those needs and work with VA to provide you with the best care available.

I invite you to follow my newsletters as I will try to keep you informed of legislation I am working on and my support for Veterans and their families.

Thank you for your sacrifice and service, and God bless you and the United States of America.