Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01), Chairman of the Veterans' Subcommittee on Health, today led a congressional hearing on improving veteran care by addressing the Veterans' Administration's (VA) inability to establish correct staffing levels for veterans' services.
"It's really important that the VA establish a staffing plan to best treat our veterans and give them the care that they have earned. Here in Northern Michigan, we have thousands of veterans scattered over a vast area, so we need the VA to be as efficient as possible. As a doctor who worked in a VA hospital for 20 years, I want to see these guys at the VA finally take action to address some of these problems," said Dr. Benishek, Michigan's only member of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
The subcommitee's hearing focused the VA's failure to create a physician staffing plan and how access for veterans' services can be improved. Over the past 30 years, various government reports have indicated that the VA has been unable to ensure it has appropriate staffing levels for veteran services. During the hearing, Dr. Benishek pressed VA officials on how ways to address these problems and improve efficiency in the system, especially for veterans living in remote areas like Northern Michigan.
"There are many examples I could provide -- examples of veterans seeing a different doctor every time they go to VA for an appointment and examples of veterans from my district being told to travel hundreds of miles from our home in Northern Michigan to the VA medical centers in Milwaukee or Detroit because local doctors can no longer provide needed services in our community," observed Dr. Benishek during the hearing.
"Frankly, I think today's hearing helped shed some light on ways we can improve veteran care. I was just in the Copper Country on Monday hearing from a group of local veterans. They told me they just want the VA system to work better. That's exactly what we are trying to do on the vets committee," added Dr. Benishek.