COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Georgia law makers host the second Veterans Workshop to help increase access veterans have to health care in lieu of the mounting number of complaints against the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"I started with the V. A. back in 1983 and only in 2011 did I get my complete 100 percent," veteran Stephen Benson explains.
All the time suffering from the effects of Agent Orange from the Vietnam War, as well as two debilitating shoulder injuries. His story and wait time are subjects that have recently wreaked havoc on the Department of Veteran's Affairs.
"We've had probably a normal 80 complaints open on the books all the time," says Georgia Congressman Lynn Westmoreland."We now have 171."
Westmoreland tells News Leader 9 that inviting Veterans Affairs department heads as well as congressional leaders to speak openly with veterans about their claims will increase health care initiatives while decreasing the number of unanswered complaints.
"We're trying to get the message out to the veterans that we're here to help because if they don't tell us we need help, we can't help them," adds Westmoreland.
It's a partnership that veterans in attendance say has been a long time coming.
Benson says "without the government getting involved to help the veterans, we have no one."
To prevent future issues like Benson's -- the V. A. reform bill was signed into law by President Obama in August. The bill will cost the country $17 billion to award healthcare benefits to avoid long waits for veterans. Some of the money will also be used to open additional V.A.clinics and hospitals.