Digging Deeper: Veterans Services - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: Veterans Services

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A South Georgia Congressman and state Senator are looking into complaints from veterans about service at the Albany VA Clinic.

Congressman Sanford Bishop heard so many complaints, he took the concerns straight to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.  The Department promised to look into the Albany clinic.

The Veterans Administration started in 1930 when Congress authorized the President to consolidate and coordinate Government activities affecting war veterans and here in Georgia it's a growing population.

In Georgia, there are 773,300 veterans who served from World War two through today. The U.S. offers the most comprehensive system of assistance for veterans of any nation in the world. After recent complaints about the local VA Clinic were made to State Senator Freddie Powell Sims, she worries if we're doing enough to support them.

"What are we doing to address the needs and concerns of our veterans? It's shameful," said State Senator Freddie Powell Sims.

Sims says complaints about appointment and prescription delays are ridiculous.

"No one should have to wait three, four, five months to get prescriptions filled and I'm hearing that," said Sims.

The VA sent us a statement today saying the Albany Clinic is properly meeting the medical needs of the Veterans it serves.

Digging Deeper we learned it may only get worse. Right now Georgia is one of three states nationwide that's seeing a growth of Veterans. Here in Georgia, there are 18 veterans facilities, including three medical centers and 15 clinics across the state. Just ten years from now estimates show Georgia's male Veterans population will shrink by just under 56,000 to 639,300 veterans, but female veterans numbers are expected to increase by 12,000 to 90,100.

"When these veterans return, I was just looking at a national poll 30 percent unemployment among out veterans so that's too high, way far too high," said Sims.

That's why she says services should be up to par, especially medical needs.

"It's not happening fast enough, and we're talking about taxpayer dollars, we want these, whoever is in charge of taking care of our Veterans, we want them to be held accountable for it and this is just the start," said Sims.

That's just what she plans to do by talking with everyone from the Governor to Veterans Affairs to ensure the money the state is paying into services is being well spent.

The VA Health Care system includes 171 medical centers and more than 350 outpatient clinics nationwide.

The Department of Veterans Affairs was established as a Cabinet level position on March 15th, 1989.

Retired General Eric Shinseki is the current Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

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