Veteran complaints continue after congressional oversight visit - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Veteran complaints continue after congressional oversight visit

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

One day after a congressional visit to the Jackson VA center complaints about treatment at the facility continue. Officials say management changes are leading the center in the right direction, but some veterans strongly disagree.

"There are issues that date back several years at this facility and I see a movement in the right direction," said House VA Committee Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller.

While the Florida congressman told the media issues facing the Jackson VA Center were improving Tuesday, disabled veteran Gerald Harvey said he waited hours to see a physician and left without doing so.

"I made a 120 mile trip to Jackson," said Harvey. "I live in Cleveland, Mississippi, and when I got there to the clinic, the receptionist and people there on staff and the nurse didn't know anything about it."

The 49 year old, injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq, said he's been receiving treatment at the Jackson VA since 2004. He learned recently that for about a year he was not being treated by a doctor.

"I was misled that I was seeing, was gonna be seen by a physician, and I had been seen by a physician, but she was not. She was a nurse practitioner," said the Iraqi War vet.

Veterans Affairs Medical Center officials said Nurse Practitioners meet all of the required state and federal licensure to practice primary care and each has a collaborating physician as required and provide all levels of care.

There are currently eight physicians and 13 nurse practitioners on staff. But there are 35 open positions including physicians, nurses and administrative staff.

Retired National Guard Major General Erik Hearon said the VA is not moving quickly enough, and veterans are dying. Hearon retired after 40 years in the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard.

"If they can't fix themselves by 2015 that the veterans be given insurance policies like Tri-Care, like so many people already have and close the Veteran's Health Administration," said Hearon.

"What we've been through they should respect us enough to do their best eight hours a day to serve us," added Harvey.

According to VA officials, in fiscal year 2013 they cared for 45,335 veterans in 50 counties in Mississippi and six parishes in Louisiana, comprising 436, 326 outpatient visits.

Veterans having problems with service should call the Center Director's representative at 1-800-949-1009 extension 1253.

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