How issues in Veteran’s Affairs have impacted the Ohio Valley

Health

After The Department of Veterans Affairs has seen major management issues 7News talked with a local veteran and a member of the House of Representatives to put those issues into perspective.

In 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs found itself rocked by scandal.  Whistleblowers in Phoenix and three other VA hospitals and clinics said local administrators caused excessive wait times for care, resulting in the deaths of 40 people.

A local veteran said he heard those stories, but in our area, he said he received first-rate care.

“Around here, I’ve had no problems whatsoever — between going to St. Clairsville, locally around here, and I go to Pittsburgh for necessary stuff,” said U.S. Marine Corp. Vietnam War veteran, Lew Delbert.

According to the VA’s own numbers, their net cost of operations in 2017 came to $481 billion.  That money also paid for well over 370,000 employees. Critics say VA management needs to manage that money better, with information technology in particular.

“They’ve got thousands of systems that don’t talk to one another, that are archaic, that don’t work well in a 21st-century environment,” said U.S. Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH).

Others in Congress want new vigor, new energy at the top of the department.

“It is a very very large and expensive organization. So somebody with great organizational management skills,” said U.S. Representative Steve Womack (R-AR).

“The VA needs to be evaluated from the top down, the bottom up.  We need a panel of experts that know how to deliver health care, that know how to process insurance claims.  Because it’s not just healthcare,” Johnson added.

Representative Johnson said he believes “pockets of excellence” exist in the V-A healthcare system.  Lew Delbert said this area fits that description. 

“I’ve had my eyes cataracts taken off and implants put in, I do have some problems with A-fib, but they’re treating that, and I’m doing fine, I have no problem.”

The vetting process continued to find a new secretary. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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