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Local VA Director, Rockefeller Weigh In On Veterans Care Problems

Reported: May. 29, 2014 11:33 PM EDT
Updated: May. 29, 2014 11:41 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Stefano DiPietrantonio) - Calls for the head of the national Veterans Administration to resign and for the first time since the scandal began breaking, we're hearing from our local Veterans Administration director in Huntington, Brian Nimmo.

Nimmo said he was stunned when he heard about some of the treatment at other VA hospitals, but added, he's proud of the work they're doing in Huntington. U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., also weighed in and said VA care is improving across the board.

Rockefeller blasted Congress for barely funding the V.A.

"We're not funded, we're not funding them," Rockefeller said.

The senator said this was the case, especially with the thousands of new victims of PTSD and other post-war ailments coming home to the V.A. in droves.

"These people are flowing, as they should, just flowing into the Veterans Administration. and the Veterans Administration in any place, can't handle the load," Rockefeller said.

"The VA is one of the world leaders in the treatment of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress,” Nimmo said. “We feel like we're equipped to deal with that growth and to deal with the challenges that comes along with it."

In the past five to six years, Nimmo said their mental health staffing has doubled.

"We do reviews every day, of the clinic appointments, of the timeliness of care, every consult that's put in here, is reviewed by the requesting clinic," he said.

A Phoenix VA Hospital is the epicenter of the scandal. A report found at least 1,700 veterans who needed care and thought they had appointments, but were never on the official waiting list. The list was allegedly for veterans whose appointments were less than two weeks out, so staff and officials could appear to be meeting their mandate for timely care, which would qualify them for bonuses and raises.

"A lot of this attention that has been paid, reduces our veteran's confidence in us and what we're doing for them and I want them to know we're doing everything we can," Nimmo said.

Many lawmakers in both parties are calling for VA Director Eric Shinseki to resign.

"I refuse to call for the resignation of Shinseki," Rockefeller, who stands behind him, said.

The Huntington V.A. stands behind the timeliness of their care.

"We're going to have challenges,” Nimmo said. “We accept those. We feel like we can be flexible and meet those challenges."



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