The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper


About 20 veterans Tuesday attended what was billed as a listening session for U.S. Representative Bob Latta, R- Bowling Green, to hear their concerns about receiving care through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The congressman told those attending the meeting at American Legion Post 28 in Perrysburg that the House the prior week had passed a bill, the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act, which will make it easier for the secretary of the department to remove or demote senior employees.

The bill was introduced in the House in February, but recent revelations about the deaths of veterans while awaiting care at a VA hospital in Arizona expedited its passage, Latta said, adding it appears administrators in Arizona were keeping more than one set of records to mask delays in treatment times.

“It’s hard to believe we had to do this,” he said of the bill.

Richard Elbridge, Perrysburg, an Air Force veteran, said he faced several diversions in trying to get basic eye care and has since opted to receive medical service in the private sector.

Earl Moeller, a Navy veteran, said he’s generally had positive experiences at the VA clinic in Toledo but has been frustrated by “administrative decisions” while seeking screenings for possible asbestos exposure and tinnitus.

He said the doctors and nurses who’ve treated him “have been very good” but many decisions made in regional offices can take years. He said he was told to expect a wait of five to 10 years for a hearing to appeal his disability application.

Another veteran expressed frustration with getting an appointment for an eye exam, saying his call to a clinic in March wasn’t returned until the end of April, and one veteran complained of the bureaucracy he faced trying to get treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Latta has written to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, asking for clarification of regulations that cover when veterans can be sent to private health care providers.

There are about 70,000 veterans in the 5th Congressional District, Latta said,

Gary Nordahl, commander of Post 28, urged veterans to avail themselves of the services offered by American Legion and Veterans of Foreign War posts.

He said his post offers transportation service to area VA clinics and lodging for veterans from out of town.

“Here at Post 28 we do have men who need help,” he said.

In testimony May 15 before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Richard Griffin, acting inspector general of the VA department, said a report of his office’s investigation of the deaths in Arizona should be complete in August.

At his request, Secretary Shinseki placed the director and associate director of the Phoenix Health Care System on administrative leave while the investigation was being conducted.

Latta also held sessions in Findlay and Defiance.

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