Advocate says veterans need access to care

Posted at 9:07 PM, Jul 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-22 00:07:40-04

San Diego (KGTV) - How long is too long to wait for help?

In 2014 there was an uproar concerning the Department of Veteran's Affairs and patient care. Reports began to surface that patients in Phoenix were dying while waiting for care.

A nationwide audit later revealed thousands of veterans waited weeks, if not months to get the care they needed. In San Diego the numbers were much better, but still on peoples minds.

“Sometimes it’s a little difficult to get an appointment,” one person told 10News at the time.

Fast forward three years and the VA remains under the microscope.

“Veterans need to be able to have access to care,” said Ben Rangel with Concerned Veterans for America.

Rangel says he served eight years in the United States Marine Corps. He tells 10News his first duty station was in San Diego.

He believes wait times and health care problems with the VA have improved in some parts of the country, but veterans still face challenges when it comes to accessing care.

"We need to make sure if veterans can not be seen in a timely manner they need to be able to go outside of the VA to the nearest hospital,” he said.

According to the VA there are about 225,000 veterans living in San Diego County.

Last fiscal year there were 82,940 Veterans enrolled for health care.

10News got wait time numbers from the VA San Diego Healthcare System showing local wait times are down.

The table lay out San Diego appointment wait times, in days, for primary care, specialty care and mental health since October of last year.

A spokesperson for the VA tells 10News:

“Mental health services on an emergency basis have always been available through our Emergency Department and we have had a walk-in psychiatric emergency clinic (Monday – Friday) for at least five years.”