Elkhart, Goshen veterans discuss alleged treatment delays at VA clinics

Correspondent Mark Shephard asks local veterans 1) How they feel about VA Health Clinics allegedly covering up treatment delays, and 2) If VA Secretary Eric Shinseki should resign.

Posted on May 16, 2014 at 3:52 p.m.

Correspondent Mark Shephard visited the Elkhart DAV Chapter 19 and the VA Goshen Clinic this week and asked veterans, “How do you feel about VA Health Clinics allegedly covering up treatment delays, and do you feel that VA Secretary Eric Shinseki should resign, as the American Legion has demanded?”

Dennis Munson, retired public utility worker and Navy veteran, Elkhart:

“Somebody ought to resign.” Follow-up question: Do you think they are covering up treatment delays, and why can’t they get to helping veterans like they should be? “Oh, yes. It’s the people they hire. It’s been on the news. If you believe the news, the bonuses these people get that are higher up to not treat people. Let them die off, that’s what they want us to do. I’m a Vietnam vet. They want you to die off to get rid of you. They knew what Agent Orange was when they started out over there, but we hauled it. I did. I was a truck driver over there. I hauled tons of it. So how many people did I kill by hauling it to spray it.”

Gene DeMorrow, retired insurance salesman and Marine veteran, Goshen:

“Absolutely, I think most of the posts are made political, and when it comes to our vets, they shouldn’t be made political. Everybody gets better treatment than the vets who lay their lives down for us. I know that going to the VA Clinic here, that the people are so nice that work there, but they’re so overworked. I’ve always been treated great there, but they can’t keep help. They’re just so overstrung. I just heard about mental health. They’ve serviced over a million — some of them over and over and over — but when they have so little people to counsel them, and when they’re overworked, it’s spreading everything to thin. Our government officials get the best care and everything like that, and I think that’s all that they care about anymore.”

Sam Gagich, retired construction worker and Army veteran, Elkhart:

“I haven’t heard the whole story and all of the fallout from that, but I’m concerned about veterans getting proper treatment.” Follow-up question: How has your treatment been over the years? “Good. We’ve had very good treatment here as a veteran.” Follow-up question: Why do you think there may be an issue with delayed treatments at clinics? “I think it’s political. Everything that goes on in Washington has become politicized, and they’re not able to do what they should be able to do because they’ve got to respond to politicians somewhere along the line. I just don’t like to see veterans mistreated, but I don’t know what the whole story is, and what the fallout is, and who’s responsible.”

Beryl Bowlby, retired and Marine veteran, Elkhart:

“I think he ought to get his rear end kicked. When something like that happens, that’s terrible. I think that should be investigated, and he should lose his job.” Follow-up question: Why do you think there would be treatment delays? “I don’t know what they were waiting on, maybe just waiting for them to die and get rid of them.”

Sam Hower, machinist and retired Army veteran, Goshen:

“I haven't noticed anything personally. I just heard something coming up the other day, and based upon what I heard, yeah, he should probably go. They're really cutting veterans’ stuff so bad already.” Follow-up question: Why do you think there would be a cover-up of treatment delays? “The only thing I can think of is probably money-wise. Some veterans have a lot of issues, and it takes a lot of money to take care of that. And there's a lot of bureaucracy.”

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