COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – When our servicemen and women hear the call to engage the enemy anywhere in the world, they would never tell the government "we may not be able to respond for 30 days."
But that's what's happening to some veterans around the country who need medical care from Veterans Affairs. It's a problem felt more acutely in the South, where military bases play a vital role in our communities.
Although the VA does excellent work and many veterans receive prompt and skilled care, waits of over 30 days for other vets are common.
This, despite the new VA timeliness initiative that includes future plans to build more medical facilities.
Between last September and February, the Associated Press studied the VA bureaucracy for signs the agency had stepped up its response time after last year's scheduling scandals.
That small, six month study found problems still exist. Ten of the 100 VA hospitals nationwide with the most patients waiting more than 30 days for medical care are in Georgia.
The clinic near Fort Benning is especially slow: the study shows 13 percent of patient visits involved a minimum wait of more than 30 days - it's rated among the worst performers in the nation, with close to the longest average wait for mental health care in the country.
Good work is done at the VA, and since our story some viewers called to tell us they enjoy prompt response and excellent care.
A viewer named Al told us on Facebook that Columbus needs a full scale VA hospital because of Fort Benning. But another viewer named Gwen wrote that when she calls the local VA office, the phone rings and no one answers.
Veterans deserve top notch medical care and this recent study on wait times shows that it still doesn't come fast enough for all the veterans who deserve care whenever they need it.
General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to WTVM Editorial Committee or write to:
WTVM Editorial Committee
1909 Wynnton Road
Columbus, GA 31906