|Congressman Bob Latta
(R-OH) (left) listens to veterans at the Perrysburg American Legion in Perrysburg. Latta hosted a
veterans conference for those with concerns over delays within the Department of Veteran Affairs. (J.D.
PERRYSBURG — Veterans who challenge disability decisions can face delays of five years or more.
That’s one reason vets are increasingly critical of the complex system they’re forced to navigate, one
administered by the agency embroiled in controversy over its dysfunction.
During a forum at the American Legion this morning, the Department of Veteran Affairs was charged with
mismanagement and disdain for those it’s supposed to serve.
U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, listened and pledged to look into the cases of about 20 veterans
present, some of whom have clearly grown distrustful of the VA’s ability or willingness to take care of
Additional forums were planned today in Findlay and Defiance.
The latest critique of the national administration stems from reports that some administrators created
alternate waiting lists to make wait times for health care appear shorter. The officials reportedly had
performance bonuses tied to those figures, and as many as 40 veterans died while waiting for care from
the Phoenix VA, where reports of wait-list manipulation first surfaced.
“They were cooking the books out there,” Latta said of the VA in Arizona.
|Vietnam veteran Gregory
concerns during a meeting with Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH) at the
Perrysburg American Legion in Perrysburg. (J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Twenty-six VA departments are now being investigated.
Latta last week sent a letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki asking why more patients waiting for critical
care aren’t permitted to seek treatment from private providers rather than VA facilities.
“Our nation’s veterans deserve nothing but the highest quality of service and care,” he wrote. “Please
inform me why the VA does not permit more non-VA care and treatment to veterans in circumstances that
warrant it and what the VA plans to do to ensure veterans are properly cared for at all times.”
President Barack Obama’s administration has since agreed to allow more veterans to get care at private
In Perrysburg, one veteran with a history of requiring vision care said he was required to see a doctor
first to assess his need before he was allowed to seek an appointment with an optometrist for a new set
Another man, Earl Moeller, said he was told by an American Legion representative helping his disability
appeal that he should expect to wait five to 10 years before receiving a hearing.
“That’s way, way, way too long,” Latta said, noting that VA delays and concerns have increasingly become
a subject of conferences with constituents.
Latta’s district contains 70,000 residents who are veterans, he said.
“These are life-threatening situations in a lot of cases.
“They’ve got to hold people accountable and get this thing moving.”