Arlington, VA – Today, Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) is launching a new website, MyVAStory.org, as a platform for veterans to share their experience with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). CVA is encouraging veterans to submit stories to the website or on social media using #MyVAStory.
The website features an interactive map showing what people across the country are saying about the VA. “I’ve been trying to get physical therapy for 9 months,” says Frank from California. “A lot of veterans feel totally betrayed,” says Mike from Washington state.
This platform is a continuation of the existing My VA Story project at CVA, where the organization has been highlighting the stories of different veterans and military family members who are experiencing difficulties with the VA.
CVA Vice President of Policy and Communications Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:
“Some veterans are happy with VA, but far too many tell us that they’re not getting the care they need. Unfortunately, there are people in Washington who deny that problems at the VA are widespread. We’re launching this platform as a way to give veterans a voice and an outlet to share their unfiltered experiences with the VA. Our hope is that this project will inform meaningful reforms at the VA, which are needed urgently.”
CVA is constantly hosting events for veterans across the country. Last month, the organization wrapped up its 2016 Defend Freedom Tour in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania after hosting 22 stops in 13 states. CVA also regularly hosts small, local town halls which serve as open forums for veterans to speak about their issues.
According to the VA’s own data, problems at the VA have actually gotten worse since the wave of scandals in 2014. Wait times are longer. Accountability is lacking. Independent reports of waste, fraud, and abuse are common.
CVA supports the Caring for our Heroes in the 21st Century Act, draft legislation introduced by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), which would strengthen and preserve the VA while also allowing veterans access to care outside the VA system when they need it. CVA also supports the VA Accountability Act, which would extend reforms that make it easier to fire senior staff to apply to all VA employees.
Vets Tell CVA: We Aren’t Getting The Care We Earned
Jason, Arizona: “I Was Not Able To See A Doctor For 12 Weeks.” “I have been receiving treatment at the Tucson, AZ VA facility for about two months now, about eight months back, I walked in to the VA complaining about horrible pain to my right knee…While I continued to follow-up, I was not able to see a doctor for 12 weeks and when I finally was seen, it was by an outside practice provided by the Veterans Choice program! When I saw the doctor he informed me that my ACL was torn and the pain I was experiencing had been due to pins that were in placed in my knee at incorrect angles.”
Frank, California: “VA Is Making a Mockery of the Choice Program.” “Have been trying to get physical therapy for 9 months. VA making a mockery of the Choice Program. Their indifference is appalling and self serving.”
Mike, California: “Can’t I Just Be Examined Near My Home?” “Here in California, we have neighborhood VA outpatient clinics. These clinics are good at a lot of things, BUT, they make us veterans go to the main VA facility for labs, CAT scans and MRI’s. Often times, the clinics are based in offices that have a full imaging department, yet we are not able to take advantage and are forced to travel to other facilities. Scheduling at these larger VA facilities is a pain and requires longer drives. Can’t I just be examined near my home?”
Wayne, California: “[No One Is] Willing To Help Those Fighting For Accountability.” “I am dealing with a union and supervisors who are preventing me from holding my employees accountable and who are now going to counter my actions. There are not enough resources, legal counsel, or anyone else willing to help those fighting for accountability from within.”
Joni, Florida: “They Don’t Have the Proper People in Leadership Positions.” “As I got out of the Air Force, I knew I would be telling my story to who knows how many therapists from the VA. No one is really scheduled to be your certain therapist…They don’t have the proper people in leadership positions in order to ensure veterans receive the healthcare they need.”
Teresa, Indiana: “Change Must Be Made Immediately.” “I always say that nobody treats veterans worse than the VA. I am a patient in the Chicago VA system and I cringe with every interaction I face with the VA, knowing it is going to result in unnecessary stress and will most likely lead to a dead end….Some veterans are simply too ill or elderly to speak against the mistreatment they endure. I would like to be their voice. Changes must be made immediately. There is no good reason veterans should be experiencing what we are by the hands of those who are put in place to care for us.”
Nate, Minnesota: “It Took the VA Eight Years to Diagnose My Injury.” “I was injured by an IED in Afghanistan, and came home only to encounter a new battle to get proper care from the Department of Veterans Affairs. At the Minneapolis VA, I was seen by an unqualified VA physician who failed to diagnose my traumatic brain injury. It took the VA eight years to diagnose my injury.”
Charles, North Carolina: “30% of Staff Have No Clue What They Are Doing.” “I am a Captain who served 10 years in the Army and am a patient at the VA here in Salisbury, NC. Since I have been here, I’ve seen about 20% of the staff and leadership have a desire to make positive impacts on veterans lives. I’ve also seen about 30% of staff who have no clue what they are doing, but manage to stay under the radar. In my experience, good people don’t stay long at the VA due to the culture. The unions have ruined the VA and there is a culture of recycled incompetence.”
Mark, Texas: “I Am Unable to Get My Therapy Restarted.” “I am a 100% service disabled veteran living in the Houston area. I was previous enrolled in an aquatic therapy physical therapy program at the VA, but as of November 2015, the pool was closed due to an unsafe chlorine odor. The staff at the VA had been aware of the issue for nearly four years and the pool had undergone frequent temporary closures during that time. Now that the pool reopened in May of 2016, I am unable to get my therapy restarted.”
Tedd, Virginia: “I Have Been Waiting Eight Years.” “I was medically discharged from the Army with a disability rating in 2008. After my discharged I waited two months for my first appointment at the VA, where I was denied my first disability claim due to a lack of ‘medical evidence’ of my disability…Unfortunately, I have been waiting eight years and still do not have the proper rating form the VA.”
Jonathan, Virginia: “I Had to File a Congressional Complaint.” “I had to file a congressional complaint to get a new VA psychiatrist after the one I was assigned when I moved told me he didn’t think anything was wrong with me. I later found out I’m not the first person he’s had this kind of issue with. Sometimes it’s been really good care but there’s been more than one awful experience.”
Mike, Washington: “A Lot of Veterans Feel Totally Betrayed.” “Every month I go to my local VA hospital for blood work. I hear from Veterans from WWII thru Afghanistan, about their illnesses and afflictions. A lot just sit there and look at the wall, waiting for another examination by their Nurse Practitioner due to the lack of Drs. People wonder why suicide is so high in Veterans, just come sit with me and watch. A lot of Veterans feel totally betrayed.”