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Restoring Faith In The VA

July 1, 2014, 6:14 PM by Leland Steva

Restoring Faith In The VA

Those long waits you've no doubt heard about on the national news aren't a problem for the Sioux Falls VA Hospital. Senator Tim Johnson today met with officials at the care center to get a better understanding of its scheduling process.

Senator Johnson says he's extremely disappointed over reports of secret waiting lists at VA Care Centers across the county. He says he's taking steps to make sure it doesn't happen again.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is getting negative attention after a scandal led to the resignation of its leader. Senator Tim Johnson hopes changes are made to the care centers where problems exists, but also supports the care centers that are doing well.

"Throughout the country, including here in South Dakota, there are also VA employees providing our nation's vets with quality, timely healthcare," Senator Tim Johnson said.

With the wait list scandal at centers around the country, Senator Johnson is pleased with the time it takes for veterans to receive care at the Sioux Falls VA Hospital -- An average of 25 days for veterans here, just below the national average of 27 days.

"Our wait times are very good and where we have delays are usually very specific reasons. A provider has retired or we have difficulties recruiting but we are very mindful of those situations. We have good visibility of those," Director Darwin Goodspeed said.

Johnson is the chairman of the military construction and veterans affairs appropriations subcommittee. He crafted a bill to help give 5 million dollars to the Inspector General to review the policies of all VA care centers nationwide.

"I took action by in terms of fully funding the IG to get to the bottom of this," Johnson said.

Army Veteran Joe Tooley repeatedly called Johnson's office inviting him to visit the hospital. He got his wish today, as he met the Senator face-to-face.

"I was sitting in the dining room when they told me was here. I says, 'Good I want to talk to him.' Yeah it really did make me glad to know he was here finally," Army Veteran Joe Tooley said.

Whether it's meeting a veteran, or making legislation in Washington, Johnson hopes his actions can help change the stigma that has surfaced around the VA during the last few months.

The Sioux Falls Hospital takes care of 28,000 veterans from parts of South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa.

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