VA Responds to Indiana Veterans and Senators

Published 06/13 2014 09:28PM

Updated 06/16 2014 08:16AM

Pressure is mounting against the VA, especially now that the FBI is getting involved to determine if there was any criminal wrongdoing to prevent veterans from getting the care they deserve on a timely basis. WFFT's Audra Streetman met with Kent Alwood, a retired Vietnam Veteran who says the VA ignored his request for an appointment for 15 months, and now he's finally getting a response. 

"I have a letter from them stating that it was their fault that I didn't have an appointment for 15 months because the Fort Wayne VA did not give me an appointment for 15 months," said Kent Alwood who's been going to the Fort Wayne VA Hospital for years. 
Kent says the primary care is great, but when he tried to switch to a new psychiatrist for mental health care, he says was ignored for nearly a year and a half. 

"I really needed my meds and I really needed some counseling, so I went to outside people and found other doctors to get my medicine, my medication and counseling," said Kent.

But when Kent showed up for a PTSD evaluation at the Marion VA hospital for his disability rating, he says a psychologist told him that he was doing better, since he hadn't sought help at the VA for 15 months. 

"He thought I had just gotten better and didn't care about outside services," said Kent.

Kent wrote to Indiana congressional leaders, asking for them to look into his case. 

In the last two months, Indiana Senators Joe Donnelly and Dan Coats co-authored a letter to the VA's former secretary Eric Shinseki and his replacement Sloan Gibson.

On Thursday the senators received a response. In the letter, Secretary Gibson writes, "This situation will be fixed. VA will work together with veterans service organizations, congress, and all VA stakeholders to restore the trust of veterans and the American people by providing quality health care in a timely manner."

The letter comes after the VA released details of a nationwide audit, revealing more than 5,700 veterans have been waiting for at least 90 days to see a doctor at the facilities. 

Senators Coats and Donnelly both voted in favor of a bill Thursday to reduce wait times at VA facilities. Just the other day, Kent got a letter from the chief of mental health services at the Fort Wayne VA Hospital.

The progress report states, "I apologized to him for how things were handled and his two instances of not getting timely action on provider changes and the discontinuity that created for his treatment."

Kent says he now has an appointment set up with a new psychiatrist and PTSD therapist later this month.

"I'm glad they're trying to correct it but I really need to know am I the only one and did I fall through the cracks, or is somebody else out there like me."

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