Ever since reports of mismanagement at Veterans Affairs clinics across the country starting coming to light, I've been doing my best to make sure that these issues aren't affected veterans in Louisiana. Unfortunately, there are problems here too.
Recent reports have suggested that the Overton Brooks VA Hospital in Shreveport has been keeping a secret wait list and downplaying wait times for veterans. Internal email leaks and employee testimonies are starting to bring the situation in Shreveport into the national spotlight -- clearly not in the way we want. I am doing my absolute best to get to the bottom of the situation.
Employees at Overton Brooks say there are multiple lists and spreadsheets of over 2400 patients that have not seen a doctor in as long as 15 months, while about 620 veterans have not seen a doctor at all. In fact, one email even indicates that 37 veterans died while they were on that list. If these allegations are accurate, that's an outright disservice to the veterans the hospital is meant to serve.
At the same time, I'm looking into a potential cover up by the VA Hospital in New Orleans regarding the recent death of a veteran. A constituent recently came to me with information about her deceased father -- a veteran -- who received what she described as poor care at the VA health care facility in New Orleans. The VA has refused to provide information to the constituent about her father. That's just wrong, and the VA needs to be in overdrive working to restore the trust of our veterans. They can start by providing information about what steps they're taking to address problems like this.
I'm working to get the VA to explain both of these situations, and to have the independent inspector general conduct a full investigation.
In addition to fighting for answers in Shreveport and New Orleans, I am fighting tooth and nail to get two VA clinics built in Lafayette and Lake Charles. Our veterans should not have to travel long distances to receive the healthcare they need. These clinics will give these veterans the quality care they deserve and help alleviate some of the horrible wait times.
If you've experienced problems with the VA, or if you have family, friends or neighbors who have, I want to hear your story. Please share your experiences at vitter.senate.gov/va-stories.