GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (May 30, 2014) — Local veterans are speaking out after President Obama announced the resignation of Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. The news doesn’t come as a complete surprise, after both repbulicans and democrats called for shinseki to step down.
An investigation looking into wait times at VA hospitals have been the center of the scrutiny.
Catherine Buckley with the American Legion served almost 10 years in the U.S. Navy, and is now focusing her time on helping vets who’ve become ill.
“I have veterans over there not getting medication or doctor’s appointments, and it’s just not going to happen on my watch,” said Buckley.
Buckley said that it’s heartbreaking seeing veterans not receiving the medical care they were promised when they served.
“This man can’t hold a fork to feed himself. He’s got the shakes so bad because he hasn’t got his medication and he’s a Korean veteran. He deserves better treatment than that, and it’s appalling,” said Buckley.
Charles Mangold also served in the U.S. Navy, and lives at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. He said that over the past seven years while he’s lived at the facility, he’s witnessed a decline in services.
“See them experience what we are experiencing. See them see their finances drying up like we have had to watch ours drying up, and then maybe they’ll care,” said Mangold.
Mangold said that many of his friends have waited several months past their original appointment date before they were able to see a doctor.
“You know that old saying, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Well, sometimes that works with the VA,” said Mangold.
Veteran Robert Bianchi said that Vietnam veterans are a growing number of patients being seen at VA hospitals, and hopefully new leadership within the Department of Veteran Affairs will increase the quality of care veterans receive.
“Vets have to see the doctor to get treated for their different injuries, especially the Vietnam vets. They need it bad, and when you hold off on them, that’s not good,” said Bianchi.
Veterans also said that they have children of their own who are now serving in the military, so quality healthcare at VA hospitals isn’t just important for them, but also the next generation of veterans.