I’ve blogged several times pertaining to the inefficient VA system and how they treat their patients. I’ve reviewed and taken cases against the VA over negligent treatment given to veterans. This is why I continue to blog on new “issues” found because I hope it will cause the VA system to improve and treat their patients better.
Action News recently did an investigation on the St. John’s veteran’s clinic. Paige Kelton of Action News has obtained a copy of a new deal between St. John’s County and the VA. At the bottom of the report, it states that the VA will control the flow of information involving a taxpayer payer funded clinic. This agreement has angered local veterans who believe it is an effort to silence how the clinic is treating its’ patients. After so many articles and stories have come out criticizing how the VA system cares for veterans, the VA is trying to stop the public’s right to know and it is forcing St. Johns County to play along. Bill Dudley, who is Chairman of the Veterans Council in St. Johns County, thinks this new attempt by the VA is because they are tired of taking criticism. He and the County have tried for many years to get the VA to move to a new county facility where the monthly rent would stay the same. Even after the county sold the current location to Lowes who wants to take ownership of the building, the VA won’t leave. Now, taxpayers are stuck with thousands of dollars in fines and maintenance fees. The VA does have a temporary location. The idea is to put modular units in a vacant lot, but nothing has been done. The new agreement allows the VA to remain where it is until September. After that deadline, fines will top $100,000 per month. The agreement also talks about “reasonable cooperation with the media.” Bob Dinkins, a veteran, worries the VA actions will impact his quality of care. Michael Ryan, St. John’s County Communications Manager, told Ms. Kelton that the county had no choice. They had to find common ground with the VA or risk seeing the clinic shut down all together.
The St. Augustine CBOC provided service to 5,380 veterans in the past fiscal year, according to VA officials. The county’s current population of 20,000 veterans is expected to grow by approximately 17 percent over the next few years.
It is hard to think that the VA can insist that services for veterans would not be interrupted without having information available as to what they can expect moving forward with finding a new location for the clinic. We hope for the sake of the veterans that there will not be an interruption of care.