AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Congressman Bill Johnson talked about veterans issues Tuesday with four groups of veterans in Austintown.
The Veterans Administration has 450,000 disability appeals claims on backlog. The wait times to see a doctor can drag on.
Johnson identified with them, having 27 years of military service starting in 1973 with the Air Force.
“That’s what all of the veterans want to know. That’s what I want to know, is why the VA can’t do its job, because we’re certainly funding the VA to do its job,” he said.
In 2014, it was confirmed that the Phoenix VA manipulated how long patients were waiting for treatment. The VA health system has seen an increase of three million people over the past 12 years, overwhelming the system.
“Some of them are different. They have so many problems that they have no idea what they’re doing, and they don’t understand and they need the proper help,” said Milo Johnston, with Disabled American Veterans.
Johnson told the vets that funding is a big problem. The VA has the largest budget in Washington but is also the largest agency, its 350,000 workers enough to fill seven NFL stadiums.
“I think it’s an archaic system. It needs to be reformed from the top down and the bottom up. It needs to be brought into a 21st century model of excellence and I think there’s some great work that can be done there,” he said.
Johnson wants the VA to eliminate homeless vets, drop the claims backlog and build electronic health care records.
“As veterans, we want to do the right thing,” Johnston said. “We serve our countries but whenever we need something, they look at us like you did something wrong.”
Johnson also told veterans that the VA is playing catch up on women’s issues as they go into combat roles, saying the agency needs to do better.