Veterans voice concerns to VA Secretary Robert McDonald - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Veterans voice concerns to VA Secretary Robert McDonald

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Homelessness, lack of medical care and disability backlogs are just some of the troubles that plague the men and women who have fought to defend our country.

Veterans in our area are no stranger to the hardships that vets across the country are facing.

Government research, released in April, shows 10 of the worst 100 VA facilities are in Georgia and Southern Alabama, including the clinic in Columbus.

More than 200 veterans broke out in laughter after officials told them Thursday that patients at the Columbus VA clinic only wait three days for care. That number is spiking to a 52-day wait for new patients, but by the crowd's reaction, the situation could be worse than administrators are letting on.

One veteran spoke out saying, "What we want is a site that's easily accessible to us, adequately staffed, and expandable."

Vets had the chance to directly address VA Secretary Robert McDonald on Thursday to voice concerns and questions on hot issues.

"We're making progress, but we're not where we need to be," said Secretary McDonald, "I apologize for everything that happened in the past, certainly a lot of things that happened in the past were unacceptable."

This is why he told veterans today of some major accomplishments across the country.

Around 97 percent of appointments are met within 30 days, 80 percent of veterans have access to multiple choices of health care, disability backlog is down over 70 percent and homelessness is down 33 percent according to McDonald.

These forward strides could be the light at the end of a tunnel for those feeling forgotten in the bureaucracy.

"The employees are telling me, they feel like they're prisoners of a system they can't change," said McDonald.

He says he hopes to get disability backlogs and homeless percentages down to zero by the end of the year.

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