Veterans suffer through long waits at southern Nevada VA facilit - 8 News NOW

Veterans suffer through long waits at southern Nevada VA facilities

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LAS VEGAS -- After an investigation into care at national Veterans hospital showed “a systemic lack of integrity,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki handed in his resignation Friday.

The report was started after allegations that veterans died while waiting on a secret waiting list in Phoenix. Staff members at other hospitals have come forward admitting they were told to tamper with schedules to hide long wait times.

The southern Nevada VA system has not been told if it is being investigated as of yet, but an audit of all facilities is expected to begin next month. The VA in southern Nevada denies any tampering of schedules or secret lists but veterans say something needs to be done about the long waits.

No one likes a waiting room, but for Brian Ballard, a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, it has become almost like an alternate reality.

“It just seems like time slows and stops sometimes, when you go to the VA,” Ballard said.

Ballard says an appointment to see a counselor can take about two months on average. He has been to many VA facilities around the country and says southern Nevada staff is some of the best, but the waits are some of the longest.

“Granted the wait times are extensive but what my experience with the southern Nevada VA system is they will get you in, it's just a matter of making room for you,” Ballard said.

Ballard is one of the many Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans seeking health care. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D – Nev., says the VA system is flooded with them seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and other injuries.

“It won't be solved in a month or two and we have to recognize it. And we have to give these VA's resources to do this,” Sen. Reid said.

The southern Nevada VA system employs 49 primary-care physicians for the care of nearly 49,000 veterans.

An inspector general report determined the emergency department was too small for the demand, and the southern Nevada VA system has admitted it is working to improve wait times.

Ballard says the fix is easy.

“They really need more medical professionals, I think they over work their doctors,” Ballard said.

He says he is tired of waiting for it.

Sen. Reid said Friday the VA system is also struggling to care for an aging population of Korea and Vietnam era veterans. He says they need the resources and primary-care physicians to treat them.

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