New Mexico ranks 41st in number of VA facilities compared to vets | KOB 4
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New Mexico ranks 41st in number of VA facilities compared to vets

Jen French
May 25, 2018 10:12 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – With just one Veteran Affairs hospital and 12 clinics in the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico is among the states with the fewest facilities for veterans.

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According to Wallet Hub, New Mexico ranks 41st in the nation in the number of VA facilities compared to veterans.

Air Force veteran Michael Matthews was prepared to lay his life on the line for his country in 1974, but what he wasn’t prepared for was to be betrayed by his fellow soldiers.

"I got knocked unconscious from behind and when I came to I had two people holding me down and some other person pulled down my pants and sodomized me and I never told anybody for 20 years," he said.

Matthews was sexually assaulted when he was 19. When he finally summoned the courage to get mental help at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, it took Matthews two years to find a counselor. Until then, he had to pay for his own.

"You know, you go to counseling it costs you $50 every time you go see a counselor," Matthews said. "When you're living on disability, $50 a week is a lot of money."

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs website https://www.accesstopwt.va.gov/Main/Results wait times for new patients can range from a couple weeks to a month. Matthews said that was not his experience. He is more concerned about physician turnover.

"I don't think it's about anything other than the lack of doctors," Matthews said.

VA spokesperson Bill Armstrong told KOB-TV in an email that veterans have other options such as the Veteran's Choice Program. The program allows veterans who live more than 40 miles from the VA or who have to wait more than 30 days for an appointment to find a physician in their community and be reimbursed by the VA.

"People don't know. You have to really get out there and find out what's available and it's hard," Matthews said.

Armstrong said if a veteran is not satisfied with the way his or her healthcare is being managed, that veteran is urged to contact the Patient Advocate Office 1-800-465-8262 or (505) 265-1711, and then press 2.

For more information about New Mexico VA Telehealth Services, click here.

Credits

Jen French

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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