Pasco veterans sound off about VA concerns

Pasco County, Florida -- "I feel like I've got one foot on a banana peel and one on the grave," says a former Marine.

It's just one of the many concerns voiced by veterans at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs during a town hall Thursday held by U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis. Many veterans spoke from the heart and let congressman Bilirakis know they are frustrated.

Another former Marine said, "I submitted the paperwork a third time. That paperwork was lost."

"And I let the phone ring 40 times," says a veteran about trying to get someone at the VA on the phone.

"They're hiding, they're hiding, they're hiding," adds a Korean War veteran.

About 50 veterans and their wives shared their VA problems with hopes something can be done so they can get the care they earned.

"The way the system is, the bonus system, is corrupt as hell," the former veteran explained.

Bilirakis says, "Transparency and accountability must be among the VA's top priorities," in order for the problem to be fixed. Meanwhile, veterans are still suffering.

"No appointments scheduled. I check E-benefits every day to see if I have an appointment and I still don't," says a veteran who is trying to get an appointment for physical therapy.

Bilirakis listened to everyone in the room and assured the veterans that he's working for them when he goes back to Washington.

"We're going to pass an accountability bill to fire some of these individuals who are not doing their jobs, making sure that they can be fired at will immediately," says Bilirakis.

Congressman Bilirakis said if the Accountability Act makes it through the senate they will also be able to consolidate five VA clinics in Pasco County into a larger one, eventually helping even more veterans.

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