We’re not getting proper care: Local vet speaks out

An internal Veterans Affairs audit released Monday said more than 57,000 newly returning veterans have waited at least 90 days for medical care, while almost 64,000 others who also signed up in the VA system over the past 10 years never got an appointment they requested.

Hines VA Medical Center is one of six VA facilities in the state being flagged for further review because of scheduling issues.

Today’s audit, 54 pages in all, gives a stark landscape to the treatment of nearly 60,000 US veterans who are still waiting for care.

More than 120 VA facilities are identified in the report, of fudging the official numbers to get management bonuses.

Besides Hines VA Medical Center in Maywood being flagged, facilities in Danville, Joliet, Marion, Peoria and North Chicago as well as a clinic in Kenosha, Wisconsin are mentioned as needing further investigation.

For US Marine Veteran Emerson Lee, even getting an updated VA card has proved problematic.

“They called me and said they would take care and I never heard any more about it,” he said. “It’s been a couple of years.”

Following the audit release, Senator Mark Kirk, who’s criticized the scheduling issues at Hines said it pointed to “…a culture of corruption, intimidation and cover-ups within the VA that put personal financial gain in front of care for our military.”

But a Hines spokesperson today pointed to the 97 percent of appointments scheduled within 30 days, according to the audit. But has also given refresher training to its schedulers as a proactive measure and

“If the allegations are true,” she said, “The inappropriate behavior is unacceptable and employees will be held accountable.”

Sen. Dick Durbin called the findings “troubling” and said he asked acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson to brief him on the findings at the Illinois facilities this week.

Today’s audit is preliminary. Further investigations will be done.

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