TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Veterans Administration is plagued by lengthy delays scheduling medical appointments, as well as waits that last for years when it comes to decisions for disability claims.
The Deputy Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs is in the Tampa Bay area. Thomas Bowman shared his vision for VA reform during a visit to St. Petersburg College in Seminole. A key component, putting more decision making in the hands of local VA executives. “And less of those decisions being made in Washington,” said Mr. Bowman. “I think that this is where it needs to be and you’re going to find a higher quality health care.”
The deputy secretary sees the need for a more flexible VA that provides quality care and collaborates with the private sector. He sat on a panel with some VA executives who assured the deputy secretary how well their programs work.
The forum got mixed reviews from an audience of veterans.
“That’s not what I’m hearing from our veterans,” said Mike Haygood, First Vice Commander of American Legion Post 273 in Madeira Beach. “We have these guys come in all the time, as you well know, at our American Legion Post and they’re at their wits end.”
“I guess there’s a lot of ideas going on up in Washington that they want to change,” added Army veteran John Clark. “But I don’t see anything concrete coming from them.”
Deputy Secretary Bowman sees pockets of excellent health care throughout the VA. Those he insists, must become the VA standard.
Mr. Bowman said the VA needs standards. It needs to hire good employees, vet them carefully, get rid of bad apples, things he claims are already happening.
In a cost saving measure he states the VA identified more than 400 buildings that it doesn’t need and plans to get rid of them.
When the night ended, some thought they’d heard a lot more promises than results.
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