Arlington, VA – Today, Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) is releasing a video highlighting the challenges John Byrnes, a Marine Corps and Army National Guard veteran, faced when seeking care at the VA after his service. After delays of more than 90 days just to see a provider, John was enrolled into the Choice program, where he experienced an even longer wait time of 120 days to see a provider.
Byrnes is a combat veteran who enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1991, eventually rising to the rank of Corporal in his four-year enlistment. After a deployment in Somalia in 1992 and 1993, Byrnes returned to the military in 2000, enlisting in the New York Army National Guard. Byrnes spent several weeks at ground zero during the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks providing security and logistical support. Byrnes has also deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The feeling you get when the government treats you like a pawn in their health care system rather than like a veteran who has served his country and has earned this health care is just terrible – it’s dehumanizing,” says Byrnes, North Carolina Coalitions Director for CVA. “The only adequate solution, the only thing that gives veterans real choice is the ability for them to decide when they leave the VA system and to take those benefits with them to the private sector.”
John Byrnes had the following comment:
“I wanted to share my story because I know there are veterans across the nation who face the same challenges I did with the VA. Empowering veterans to use their benefits inside or outside of the VA will allow them to receive the care they need, when they need it. Congress must act on behalf of veterans like me to implement real and permanent health care choice at the VA.”
The video is part of CVA’s “My VA Story” series, which highlights the experiences veterans around the nation have had with the department. You can view CVA’s last video with U.S. Marine Corps veteran Adam Miller here.
CVA has proposed giving all veterans who qualify for VA health care the ability to use their benefits to access care in the private sector while also restructuring the existing VA provider network into a government-chartered nonprofit corporation. These reforms would empower veterans and ensure they get the best care possible – inside or outside of the VA.