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Saturday, Aug 23, 2014

Veterans voice their views of VA care to Jolly

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— Local veterans say they are pleased with their care from health professionals at local Department of Veterans Affairs facilities, but red tape has been a hindrance.

The steady stream of veterans, their loved ones and caregivers at U.S. Rep. David Jolly’s district office Tuesday had a chance to speak their minds, and nearly 200 hundred filled out surveys the congressman said he hopes will help steer reform.

The event was held in the wake of a nationwide controversy over exceedingly long wait times and patient lists that were fabricated to make the wait times look shorter.

Nearly one-third — 31 percent of veterans who attended — said they have had to wait more than 45 days to see a primary care doctor.

Difficulties in seeking outside care providers appears to be a major issue, with nearly half of respondents saying they have sought care from a non-VA specialist that resulted in a negative experience.

“There is a strong interest on the part of local veterans to go outside the VA system for care,” Jolly said in a written statement. “And if the VA cannot provide timely care at VA facilities, veterans should have expanded options to see private sector doctors and medical providers.”

There was one largely positive takeaway, though.

The survey results show a significant majority, 68 percent, are satisfied with the care they have received from the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center at Bay Pines and the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa. Some came to Tuesday’s VA intake solely to compliment center staff.

“That doesn’t surprise me,” Jolly said.

“We’ve heard for weeks from a number of veterans who say despite the ongoing scandal, they love the care they receive through the VA, and that reflects the commitment of so many of the hardworking VA employees,” he said.

kbradshaw@tampatrib.com

(727) 215-7999

Twitter: @kbradshawTBO

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