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DALLAS (CBS11) – A proposal in front of President Obama to take services out of centralized VA buildings and send patients to private doctors, is spurring open protest among veterans who worry they’ll lose the only caregivers who understand their needs.
“We think differently,” said U.S. Army Major Yvonne Tims who is a reservist who served in Iraq. “A lot of us when we come back from overseas we’re on autopilot.”
Tims said she still jumps for cover when she hears loud noises. It’s one of the PTSD symptoms she says only the VA can truly treat.
“Everybody I’ve come in contact with since I’ve been coming to the VA, they understand,” she said. “They have empathy. Not apathy.”
“I just being there for them,” said VA worker Lakeysa Townsend. “I don’t want to lose that.”
Townsend said without the VA, her patients wouldn’t have proper medical care.
“I work for homeless veterans. That’s very important. where would they go?”
Tims and Townsend were among dozens of protestors who stood across the street from the Dallas VA Hospital, the second largest of its kind in the U.S., and held up signs, wore shirts and gave speeches in favor of improving the current system rather than privatizing large portions of the VA, shrinking services at crowded hospitals and sending the patients into the private sector.
“If you’re looking at just moving the crowds through that’s one thing if you’re looking at and how do we do the best job of getting to patients quickly, that’s something else,” said political analyst John Weekly. “Privatization is one of several ideas that’s come up.”
Opponents of the plan worry President Obama may pass it with a presidential order and no debate. That could mean reform of the VA would come to a grinding halt if congress refused to fund it
“I can’t see the Congress and the president compromising on something like this during election year because you’re going to really disturb a lot of constituents,” Weekly said.
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