Survey ranks Virginia last in healthcare access for veterans - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Survey ranks Virginia last in healthcare access for veterans

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

There's alarming news about the state of healthcare for veterans in the Commonwealth. A new survey by consumer watch group Wallet Hub ranks Virginia last in the nation for the number of V.A. hospitals available to veterans. It's a disturbing trend community leaders in Petersburg are working to address with new options.

Navy veteran Anthony Freeman served our country with pride.

"I love the military but I feel we should be getting more than were getting," he said.

One of his biggest frustrations is what he calls long wait times when visiting the McGuire V.A. Medical Center in Richmond.

"Appointments get mixed up. You might be there 3 or 4 hours on an appointment you had a 10 o'clock, you might not get seen until 1," he claims.

Making matters worse, a new survey from Wallet Hub ranks Virginia the worst in the nation when it comes to access to V.A. hospitals. Right now Virginia has three V.A. hospitals and more than a dozen outpatient clinics, but the consumer watch group reports - for every 10,000 veterans, there's only 0.3 V.A. hospitals.

The news comes on the heels of controversy surrounding V.A. hospitals nation-wide. After recent complaints of delays in treatment and allegations of falsified records, now the government is saying more veterans will be allowed to get healthcare from private practices.

A one stop-shop for veterans in Petersburg is trying to meet the need after opening its doors in November. On top of benefit services and job training coming next month, comes good news on the healthcare front.

"Bon Secours Primary Care is going to take 5,000 square feet of the facility. They're going to offer primary care to the citizens of Petersburg right here in this building," said Tara Anderson with the Freedom Support Center.

For Navy vet Donald Mcgill, whose battling a brain tumor, it will mean convenience. He travels from Petersburg to McGuire twice a month.

"Right now I do it by cab service. I pay them money to bring me up there and I call them when I'm ready to come back," Mcgill said.

Freeman says he just wants a little more peace of mind when he's in need of medical care at the V.A..

"They're asking them to do a lot with less," Freeman said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs says it is working to address concerns by enhancing capacity at V.A. facilities nationwide. It's a move to ensure those who fought for freedom avoid danger when their lives depend on it.

A customer service manager at McGuire says the hospital is always looking for ways to improve its work flow and that McGuire has received several Center of Excellence awards for its veteran services.

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