Delayed care for veterans a national crisis

A recent report on the Department of Veterans Affairs’ performance in Michigan showed the agency is doing better in our state than in other parts of the nation.

But that does not mean our state’s veterans have not had their own share of problems. New VA patients in Michigan have had to wait an average of three to four weeks before they can even get an appointment at a medical center, well above the target of 14 days set by the Department of Veteran Affairs. Now the agency has conceded that its 14-day goal, set in 2011, is not realistic.

Worse, some 1,555 veterans in Michigan have waited more than three months just to get an appointment. Another 1,686 who signed up for care in the past decade still have not seen a doctor.

Veterans living in the Great Lakes Bay Region have it better than other areas of the state. The Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center in Saginaw had the shortest wait period of the five centers in Michigan – 22 days to get an appointment. The Saginaw center also performed better in terms of the waiting period for new patients seeking specialist care – 35 days.

But we believe most residents would agree that our state’s and nation’s veterans deserve better. As U.S. Rep. Dan Banishek, a Michigan Republican who is a member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, said, the internal audit report “is further proof that delayed care for our veterans is a national crisis. Our nation’s heroes should never have to wait over 30 days for an appointment.”

Indeed, our veterans have sacrificed too much to be treated so poorly.

The Daily News

MIDLAND