Local veterans protest VA clinic treatment

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Congress has proposed a $17 billion deal aimed at overhauling the maligned Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system.

For many veterans in Austin, help cannot come soon enough.

“It is compromising our health,” said veteran Gus Pena. “Enough veterans have died already without proper documentation and doctor visits.”

Pena met with the Sally Handsfelder, the director of Central Texas Health Care Facilities of Veterans Affairs, on Tuesday to discuss healthcare concerns for area veterans. Some of those concerns include long wait times for doctor apartments and inadequate treatment or medication.

According to Pena, a long backlog of patients needing care was the reason he was given for the backlog.

“I told her I don’t want excuses,” said Pena.

Frustration was also apparent outside the Veterans Affairs Clinic on Tuesday.

As he has done for the past several weeks, Cmdr. James Garrett was collecting signatures outside the front gate and had no shortage of car stopping to add their name on the petition.

“When we enlisted, we signed a contract the guaranteed us healthcare,” said Garrett who plans on filing the petition on a federal level.

Very few minutes would pass by before another veteran leaving the clinic would stop and sign the petition.

“Treat veterans like we should,” said Garrett. “Give us our appointments, give us our claims.”

Central Texas Health Care Facilities of Veterans Affairs declined to comment about the protests or the proposed overhaul in Congress.

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