Veteran speaks out about long wait times at Providence VA - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Veteran speaks out about long wait times at Providence VA

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By: Samantha Lavien

Slavien@abc6.com

Twitter: @samanthalavien

Outrage is continuing to grow over the current state of the VA system.

One veteran battling exceptionally long wait times at the Providence VA spoke out to ABC 6 News about her frustrations and her hope that something will be done to fix it soon.

"It's not just about the disability claims, it's not about getting that monthly check, it is about being cared about. It's just difficult," said Amie Lima.

The Exeter resident served as a member of the Rhode Island National Guard's 115th MP company in Iraq. She says she is now experiencing hearing loss.

"It's difficult sometimes people talk to me and I'm constantly saying what you know," said Lima.

Six months ago she called to schedule an appointment with a primary care physician at the Providence VA. In that time, not only has she not seen a Doctor, she hasn't even gotten a phone call.

"He had told me they'll contact me in three to five days and I never heard from them at all," said Lima.

Earlier this week a Department of Veteran Affairs audit listed Providence as having the 8th longest wait times in the country for new veterans seeking primary care appointments.

On Wednesday Senator Jack Reed told ABC 6 News that the ranking is unacceptable.

"In Rhode Island we have to strive to be the best not just to be in the mix we have to be the best," said Reed.

Lima says there needs to be some drastic changes to make sure veterans are getting the care they deserve.

"The system is failing and I think that's the reason a lot of veterans go the way they go,” said Lima. “I just lost a friend to suicide last week."

On Wednesday night the Senate passed legislation to make it easier for veterans to get treatment from local doctors. The House passed a similar bill on Tuesday.

The bill still needs to be reconciled with the House. Reed expects that will happen quickly and that it will be approved by the President very soon.

As for Lima, she's hoping the audit and outcry from veterans and the American public will serve as a wake–up call.

"The wait time is too long and I feel like we chase them," said Lima.

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