Dozens of veterans from across southwest Ohio called the I-Team when the Phoenix VA Medical Center scandal sparked demands for reform. Many veterans shared their ideas on how to improve care for veterans.
Arthur Hill, 61, was discharged from the Army in 1980 after three years of service and became a VA patient in 1981. Overall, he said his VA experience was pretty good until problems with a prostate operation in 2007 prompted him to go on a VA “healthcare strike.”
“To get me back,” Hill said, “they would have to — not just for me — they would have to be better off with all veterans.”
Hill suggests reforms to the way the VA evaluates doctors and more adequate personnel as solutions to fixing the agency’s problems.
Timothy Hammond’s experience with military healthcare began on an Army base the day he was born in 1957. At age 18, he joined the Army and served six years before taking a civilian job at the VA center in Chillicothe.
Today, he’s a Dayton VA Medical Center patient who said his decision to seek a colonoscopy from a specialist outside the VA sped up the discovery of precancerous polyps, which he fears could have worsened if he waited on the VA.
His ideas for improving the Dayton VA include hiring more doctors and improving veteran-focused care.
“All I’m trying to do is get the assistance and support that are related to my service,” he said, “and other than that, I’d like to go fishing and buy a house if that’s what I want.”
A clinical psychologist for more than three decades, Kathy Platoni took on her fourth voluntary deployment in 2009 as a colonel in the Army Reserve Medical Service Corps.
Today, Platoni said the influx of returning veterans has overloaded the system, a failure “to learn the lessons of history and prepare for this.” She said hiring doctors and staff members could help solve the issues plaguing VA hospitals.
“We have to look at the fact that we don’t have enough clinicals who are trained and serve in the military in the VA system,” she said.
Tom Hardy, a physician, spent more than two decades in the Army and 10 years in the private sector before becoming chief of staff at the Dayton VA Medical Center. He’s focused on improving the care of veterans.
“I spent 22 years in the Army, and in the Army we had a system in which a physician and two or three (physician assistants) worked together to take care of a large Army unit, and the system worked very, very well,” he said.
“And I think we can bring that to the VA, really improve access to the veterans and improve their care.”
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