While a Veterans Affairs scandal centered around soldiers' access to care and disability funds sweeps the nation, Graham vets say they have it good.
The main complaint from area vets is the distance to the closest fully equipped VA hospital, 123 miles from Graham's Downtown Square, in Dallas. There is a small VA clinic in Bridgeport that can handle some procedures, as well as a facility in Fort Worth, but often vets are required to make the trip to the east side of the metroplex for care.
A report released May 30 from the Washington Post announced the resignation of the VA's head administrator, Secretary Eric Shinseki, amidst allegations of widespread mismanagement of the agency. The article states that due to poor management, 1,700 veterans in Phoenix were forced to wait an average of 115 days for appointments. A 2013 report by the VA's inspector general found that officials at the Phoenix hospital even falsified documents to cover up the waiting times. The Phoenix center was not the only VA hospital to see allegations, with recent scandals involving centers in Miami, Pittsburgh and Columbia, South Carolina.
Larry Hamilton served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and currently serves as the VFW service officer for Graham's Veterans of Foreign Wars post. The VFW is a veterans advocacy group composed of veterans, and its service officer is charged with helping local vets understand and get access to benefits offered by the VA.
Hamilton has the unique perspective of having received VA health care in three different states: New Mexico, Arkansas and Texas, in Dallas.
“I have absolutely no problem with the VA here,” said Hamilton. “I have prompt service. If I have an appointment that's at 11 O'clock, I am always in the doctor's office no later than 11:15 and I'm usually out and on my way home an hour and 15 minutes later.”
Read the entire story is this weekend's Graham Leader.