VFW to hold Kansas City town hall on VA problems - KCTV5 News

VFW to hold Kansas City town hall on VA problems

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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is expected to release more details Monday from its nationwide audit of VA hospitals.

A house committee has been grilling VA officials about "secret lists" that hid extremely long wait times at many VA hospitals.

Now, the VFW is looking into the growing concern of secret waiting lists and wants to hear from veterans about their experiences with VA care in Kansas City and Ft. Leavenworth.

VA officials first acknowledged the Midwestern lists in letters last week to U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, both of Kansas. The letters included information about conditions in the VA's Heartland Network, with unauthorized lists maintained at facilities in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.

The letters cite 71 on waiting lists for treatment in Missouri: 26 in St. Louis, 19 in Columbia, 14 in Poplar Bluff, and 12 in Kansas City.

"It is unacceptable and intolerable that veterans in Missouri or anywhere in America would receive this type of inadequate treatment," Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, said in a statement.

Blunt said veterans are being delayed treatment for 90 days in Kansas City.

A local veteran who spoke to KCTV5 News admits he waited as long as 60 days for an appointment. He considers it normal, but says it needs to change.

"Our guys should be top priority, and if we can't get into the VA, we should be able to go to a private practice outside of that," said Sgt. Jim Lilleston, an Army veteran. "There just needs to be a revamp of the whole system as far as patient care."

The VA is conducting a system-wide investigation after concerns were raised about long waits for care at the VA health care system in Phoenix. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned last week amid the scandal.

The letters to Roberts and Moran last week came as the VA released a summary of 216 site-specific audits detailing widespread falsification of waiting list records and unreported treatment delays at VA facilities nationwide. The letters were from Francisco Vasquez, director of the Robert J. Dole Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Wichita and William P. Patterson, director of the VA's Heartland Network.

If you're a veteran and want to sound off, the town hall meeting is at the Uptown Theatre, 3700 Broadway St., from 6-9 p.m. Monday.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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