DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The man charged with figuring out how to better serve the nation’s 23 Million veterans said he is concerned about problems CBS 11 uncovered in the North Texas system.
Asked about eight-hour emergency room delays, months waiting for physician visits and veterans turning to any healthcare option besides the VA, W. Scott Gould said it is the VA’s responsibility to get veterans the services they need.
“And as you just when through that list I’m obviously very concerned that that is happening,” Gould said, in an interview during the Veteran’s Day weekend.
Gould was nominated by President Obama in 2009 to be the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. He has spearheaded a three-year overhaul focusing on ending veteran homelessness, speeding up benefits claims and improving access to care. The VA budget has climbed more than 40 per cent in that time, to $140 Billion for 2013.
Gould has focused billions on employee training, IT and management infrastructure. He defended that choice for spending comparing it to a helicopter not being able to take off without a crew. “We want to make sure that as we’re adding to our rolls. That we’re training the new people who come in to staff that system.”
Gould said the VA has added 800,000 veterans to its healthcare rolls in the last four years and that generally, the 90 Million patient visits it handles each year are of the highest quality. He encouraged North Texas veterans though to continue to open up when the department falls short.
“If you’re not getting the care you deserve, speak up,” he said. “I know out veterans are not shy. These are the folks that we’ve fought and won all our wars with. Be persistent. Make your concerns known.”