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Montana VA Clinic Forced Vets to Wait Three Times Longer Than the Fourteen Day Standard, Congressional Delegates Respond

Ft. Harrison
Photo courtesy of Jon King

A closer look by the Veterans Administration at Montana’s Fort Harrison and other clinics found that the average wait time for vets at the clinic were over 47 days, more than three times the 14 day goal set by the VA itself.

The news has prompted stern responses from both Senator Jon Tester and Congressman Steve Daines.

“Forty-seven days is too long for anyone to wait – much less a veteran who sacrificed for our freedoms,” Tester said. “Today’s report shows that once veterans get in the door at the VA they get good care. However, more needs to be done to increase their access. I will keep working to address the systemic issues preventing veterans from getting the care they earned while also making sure the VA has the resources it needs. We must live up to our commitment to the men and women who served our nation.”

A Tester press release also includes a link to a legislative agenda the Senator is working on, which attempts to reduce wait times and increase the quality of care.

Congressman Daines challenged the bureaucracy behind the VA as the heart of the problem.

“This audit confirms the existence of a problem that the VA has known about for far too long: our veterans are being forced to wait too long to receive the care they need and the services they deserve,” Daines said. “Montana’s veterans deserve nothing short of the very best, and it’s clear that they have too often been failed by a system burdened by bureaucracy and chronic inefficiencies. This needs to change—that’s why I’ve fought for policies that require accountability at the VA, promote flexibility in where veterans receive care they need, and ensure that the VA works more efficiently and effectively for our veterans.”

Daines also announced that he had cosigned onto a piece of legislation known as the Veterans Access to Care Act which would, “require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to offer non-VA care at the department’s expense to any enrolled veteran who cannot get an appointment within VA wait time goals – currently 14 days – or who lives more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility.”

Interim Senator John Walsh responded by challenging the Obama Administration directly, and asking for an independent commission to review the VA.

“With each new report, we learn the deepening and disturbing extent of the VA health system failure under the Obama administration,” Walsh said. “This administration is out of both time and excuses for the lack of oversight and widespread abuse that plague the services our men and women have earned.Today, I am calling for the establishment of an independent, bipartisan commission to review the VA and provide an action plan to Congress for how this nation can fully live up to the promises made to the men and women who sacrificed for our country.”

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