MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis veterans got a chance to take their complaints to the top. An acting under secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs was in Memphis Friday at the request of Congressman Steve Cohen.
Cohen said he’d been on top of the issues from the beginning.
However, late last year, WREG asked the congressman about some of the problems vets were telling us about and he didn’t speak of any charge for change at that time. That didn’t come until other areas of the country started complaining. WREG asked him about that Friday.
Cohen responded, “My office deals with VA complaints on a regular basis so do I. I asked General Shinseki to come here. I personally talked to General Shinseki about Memphis. I got the Deputy Administrator to come here. Very few districts have got the Deputy Administrator to come.”
Cohen insists he’s always fought for vets and has staff members who specialize in their needs.
“This was an open meeting to get the word to Washington as well as the VA hospital about the problems that the veterans have,” said Cohen.
The meeting meant a packed house of vets at the Benjamin Hooks Library. Extra chairs had to be brought into the room.
Cohen brought with him Jan Murphy, part of the senior leadership of the Veterans Administration in Washington, D.C. A regional administrator was also on hand, as well as the physician who leads the Memphis facility.
However, the meeting may have been too late for some already frustrated vets.
The congressman spent a great deal of time trying to keep the crowd under control, even changing the format of the meeting several times. At first only written questions read by Cohen aids were going to be read, but vets demanded to speak from the floor and did.
The meeting got heated at times, with veterans venting about years of problems at the VA. They talked about long wait times to see the doctors, treatments being denied and relatives spoke about losing loved ones because of what they considered misdiagnosis.
The Memphis facility is one of those being looked at by the inspector, but during the meeting, Murphy said initially she doesn’t think there are many problems here.