Vets respond to reports of long wait times at VA hospitals

A former Army soldier, Robert Valencia blames Congressional leaders in for lengthy wait times to see a Veteran’s Administration physician.

Released on Monday, June 9, an internal audit of the VA revealed that more than 57,000 veterans wait more than 90 days to get a first appointment with a doctor, and 64,000 may have never received an appointment at all.

Within hours of the audits announcement, Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, Sen. Michael Bennett and Rep. Scott Tipton, a Cortez native, released official press statements expressing their disappointment with the findings. Tipton said he was “outraged.”

“They’re surprised?” Valencia said. “This is criminal.”

At the VA hospital in Albuquerque, 275 miles southeast of Cortez, new patients seeking primary wait more than six weeks on average, according to the VA report.

Valencia’s overall disapproval of Congress is a sentiment shared by more than 90 percent of all Americans. He said Udall, Bennett and Tipton were all responsible for problems within the VA.

“When Tipton was running for office, he came to Cortez seeking the veteran vote,” said Valencia. “I haven’t seen him since.”

Korean War veteran Galen Larson also said he was frustrated with Congressional oversight of the VA, citing hundreds of millions of VA funding cuts that occurred in the past decade.

“This is not just an Obama thing,” said Montezuma County Veteran Service Officer Rick Torres. “This is not just a Bush thing, and not just a Clinton thing. They all have to take responsibility.”