Veterans express mixed views at VA Center town hall - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Veterans express mixed views at VA Center town hall

Dozens of veterans gathered in Albany on Monday. (Source: WALB) Dozens of veterans gathered in Albany on Monday. (Source: WALB)
Veterans expressed concerns with VA clinics in the area. (Source: WALB) Veterans expressed concerns with VA clinics in the area. (Source: WALB)
People could collect pamphlets and talk with representatives. (Source: WALB) People could collect pamphlets and talk with representatives. (Source: WALB)
The director of the Carl Vinson Medical Center sat down with WALB following the meeting. (Source: WALB) The director of the Carl Vinson Medical Center sat down with WALB following the meeting. (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Many South Georgia veterans said they want more help and guidance from the Veterans Affairs clinic. 

At least that's what some who attended Albany's town hall meeting on Monday said. 

Representatives from the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center hosted the town hall meeting. 

It was the first time the center hosted a town hall for folks in Albany. 

Emotions were high as dozens of veterans packed inside American Legion Post 30. 

"We need help here in Albany, Georgia, The base is just not working," said Willie Ross, who tells WALB he's been having issues with the clinics for several years. 

"I call over there and I can't get anybody," another veteran told the crowd. 

Veterans asked questions and Carl Vinson Medical Center Director Maryalice Morro gave answers. 

"Sometimes it's a perception and sometimes it's real," explained Morro. "So we listen to them and help them."

For many veterans, when asked about care, they have same answer. 

"Some good and some bad," said Jimmie Benjamin Frazier

They said they are thankful for the help, but thinks the clinics need improvements. 

"The VA clinic just does not have enough money to get enough doctors to staff the clinic and make sure you get an appointment in a timely manner," said Charlie Jones.

Jones took several notes during the meeting to share with friends who couldn't make it. 

Recently, he said he's been going to the clinic at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany. 

He said he's been able to adapt, knowing the faults of the clinics. In the end, he said the clinics are helping him, especially at the new clinic on the marine base.

"I was able to get my eye glasses, hearing aids and I got some treatment for my feet," explained Jones. 

Many veterans praised the director of the center but said corruption is coming from the people working in the smaller clinics.

"I laid there for eight hours without being seen," explained Frazier when he had a procedure done at one of the clinics. 

Some veterans put it bluntly. 

"I really personally just don't believe in the VA clinic no more," said Ross, shaking his head. 

Ross said he believes the people inside the clinics only care about money and not needs.

"They had the nerve to walk up to me this morning and give me a pamphlet about PTSD. I don't need a pamphlet I want help," said Ross.

WALB sat down with Morro following the meeting.

She said she is aware of many of the problems. She said it's not lack of funding, it's a lack of primary care doctors nationwide. 

"So we are a microcosm of that. We're in a very rural area, so it's very hard to keep folks," said Morro. 

Morro admitted the Albany clinic just lost a doctor and is losing a nurse practitioner soon too. 

She said it may be tough for a few months, but they are actively working to recruit new staff for the clinic. 

She said the newest US Secretary of Veterans Affairs is well aware of the problems and is working efficiently to fix them on the national level. 

"He's a mover and he doesn't let a lot of time go by," explained Morro. 

Morro said he has a list of initiatives. 

Those ranged from cutting down on the suicide rate to fixing the Choice program, which many veterans say doesn't work. 

The Choice Program has been around for two years. Morro said like any new launch of a program, it has had its share of problems. 

She said the center is working to fix the problems, but it is a process. 

Representatives from the American Legion Post 30 said they will be happy to help veterans who are having issues with claims. 

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