Rep. Lujan Grisham holds town hall for veterans

Created: 06/07/2014 9:46 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The ongoing scandal concerning the Department of Veterans Affairs has dominated headlines for weeks. Investigators are looking into allegations that employees falsified records and had secret lists to cover up wait times. Many New Mexico politicians have weighed in on the issue but Saturday Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham held a town hall to put veterans’ opinions front and center.

More than 100 veterans packed the auditorium to speak up about problems with the VA hospital, with benefits and with their health care options.

“We're producing so many veterans with so many wars that the VA can't keep up,” Charles Powell of Veterans for Peace said. “So much post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, this is a burden on an inadequately funded VA.”

There were horror stories of waiting months for a simple doctor’s appointment and of endless red tape at the benefits office. But there were also those who pointed out bright spots.

“We have been one of the lucky ones that has gotten really good health care and gotten good doctors, we're seen on a fairly timely basis,” Odetha Hill said.

Hill, a veteran and caregiver, says she feels for veterans who say they’ve been burned by the system. She says if one wants quality care, it takes time and work.

“Advocate for yourself,” Hill said. “Make sure you know what the ins and outs are of the VA. I ran into a couple issues where I needed more information and I had to go find it myself because no one's going to tell you how to do it.”

Lujan Grisham says that may be true, but she doesn’t think veterans should have to fight for basic health care and she hopes to make some changes in Washington.

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