American Legion said to be getting vets care they need - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

American Legion said to be getting vets care they need

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Veterans in the Valley are finally getting the services they need. But with 57,000 veterans said to be waiting for a first appointment, the American Legion has its work cut out for it.

"They tell the triage team what they need," explained Verna Jones, as she gave our cameras a tour through the crisis center that's been set up Legion Post No. 1. Jones is national director for the American Legion.

Whether vets needed to enroll in VA healthcare for the first time, "or they need to file a claim," the crisis center is the one-stop shop veterans have been waiting for.

"They're even scheduling on-the-spot appointments," Jones added.

All it took was a massive scandal involving secret wait lists, fabricated wait times and, ultimately, delays in care that some allege led to at least 40 deaths.

"I've been denied and reapplied," said Andre House, a retired Marine vet. He's had to endure pain while wading through that mess.

"I have constant ringing in the ears," House added.

But American Legion officials say vets visiting the crisis center are getting more than just lip service.

"This gentleman came in, filed a claim and had the necessary paperwork and the VA granted him 100 percent on the spot," Jones said as she pointed out a vet who got service-connected at the crisis center for illnesses seen and unseen.

"If they are having thoughts of suicide or harming themselves, or harming someone else," said Alex Taylor of La Frontera Impact. "We could transport them to any number of hospitals that have veterans programs," Taylor explained.

Jones calls it care that is taking a matter of minutes, not months.

"That's going to be the proper fix," she said. "...When veterans can come into this healthcare system and receive what they were promised, timely and adequately."

The American Legion will hold the "Vets Crisis Center" until this coming Friday. It's located at 364 N. Seventh Ave. Leaders say they will be moving this same crisis center to another city where the VA hospital there has also had issues. Although, they have not announced yet what city that will be.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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