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Help for Vets struggling with VA healthcare
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Doug Collins

Recent actions by Congressman Doug Collins may help veterans work through a frustrating government process to access VA healthcare.

Rep. Collins was invited to the Dawson News & Advertiser office June 30 to address items in a letter written to him by Wayne Watkins, president of the Dawson County Vietnam Veterans Chapter 970.

We voice our concern over the failure of the Veterans Administration to provide the current generation of veterans with effective healthcare, stated the letter dated June 1. The delay in beginning benefits for qualified veterans is unacceptable .

The letter was signed by Watkins and 14 chapter members. Vietnam veteran Roy Sparks attended the meeting with Mr. Watkins.

Rep. Collins said veterans having trouble with the VA can complete a form on his website that allows his staff to ask questions about their care and to act on the information they obtain.

We had one vet who called with an issue because he got so frustrated dealing with the VA, Rep. Collins said. We got the problem solved in a day.

In 2008, Rep. Collins served a combat tour stationed at Balad Air Force Base in Iraq.

The problem for a lot of veterans today is when they try to access the system and theyre told no, they just quit. We want to change that, he said.

House Bill 3230, designed to help veterans and to overhaul parts of the Access to Care Act, has become a political football with the reported deaths of 40 veterans at the Phoenix, Ariz., VA Health Care System.

The H.B. 3230 passed the Georgia Senate on June 11.

Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson said last month 18 of those vets died waiting for care. Investigators concluded that up to 1,700 veterans had been placed on so-called secret lists and were not in the queue for appointments they made.

Closer to home, the Atlanta VA Medical Center in Decatur was accused last year of hiding the suicide of a Georgia veteran at its facility.

Money is not going to solve the problem, Collins said. We need to address the archaic way of bringing people into the system and scheduling. Ill be disappointed if all we do is throw money at this problem.

Collins has posted a privacy form on his website. Go to dougcollins.house.gov. Click on How can Doug help you? and click Help with a Federal Agency.

While the form is not specific for veterans, it is designed to help any of Collins constituents with problems.

Complete text of the H.B. 3230 can be found at the Dawson News & Advertisers website: www.dawsonadvertiser.com.

Next week: Rep. Collins talks proposed new EPA water rules.

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