Local veterans hope for shorter VA wait times

Trump's new VA Secretary charged with system fix

Local veterans hope for shorter VA...

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - It's been one of President-elect Donald Trump's most popular talking points.

"One of the commitments I made is that we're going to straighten out this whole situation for our veterans. Our veterans have been treated horribly. We're waiting in line 15, 16, 17 days," Trump said during a news conference Wednesday.

It's a charge the VA has long fought, veterans forced to wait weeks even months for care, and sometimes not being able to expedite the process by choosing their own doctor outside of the VA system. But some veterans feel the system is fine as it is. 

"In general I wish I had more of a say to where they were sending me. The experience there. I didn't find the place that they sent me a great experience," said Army Veteran Derwood Willhite.

But some veterans see no need for a change, like Army Veteran Sim Boddie. "I've been with the VA since 1971 and I have no complaints against them," Boddie said.

The VA initiated the Choice Card Program in 2014 to expedite care and decrease long waiting lines. The American Legion initially supported the plan in hopes veterans would receive care sooner, but that's not always the case. Michael Barger is the Commander of American Legion Post 209 in Colorado Springs. He's had his own ups and down with the VA but is grateful for the facilities available in the state.

"I did intend to apply myself at one point in time and they told me it would be two to four weeks before I'd hear something," said Barger. "I do know that there's still a waiting period but it doesn't seem to be as long here. I mean we're fortunate to have at least three VA facilities; Denver, the one here and Grand Junction. It doesn't seem to be as bad here in the state of Colorado," Barger added. One thing is for sure, if Trump nominee David Shulkin is confirmed, this issue will be waiting for him.

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