Updated: 05/30/2014 11:13 PM
Created: 05/30/2014 10:03 PM WHEC.com
By: Amanda Ciavarri
Widespread problems with the healthcare system for our country’s veterans and an apparent cover-up of scheduling delays are the issues uncovered in a veterans’ affairs audit. On Friday, they led to the resignation of the VA secretary.
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki apologized in public and then resigned in the privacy of the White House in the wake of this growing scandal. Agency investigators found widespread problems in the VA hospital system. Normally, the VA tries to give patients appointments within 14 days of when they first seek care, but treatment delays have been found in numerous reports and employees at the Phoenix Hospital are even accused of keeping a secret waiting list, putting 1,700 vets in limbo.
Veterans say the care in Rochester is top notch, but they are having a similar problem to other vets around the country, which is getting in the door at all.
David Zimmerman was a military police officer in the Vietnam War. While on his posts, he was exposed over and over to Agent Orange, which has since caused him a number of medical issues like nerve damage, diabetes and perforated bones. A few months ago, he was having some pain in his foot and tries to get an appointment with the VA.
David Zimmerman said, “On the day of the appointment, the VA called me up and said that the podiatrist was out with the flu, or something. They didn't know when he was coming back, but when he did they would call me with a new appointment. No one ever called me back.”
The pain got so bad Zimmerman had to go to an outside doctor, who found a bone infection. He has since lost all feeling in his foot and there is a chance he could never get that back. Now he is left with “what-ifs”.
Zimmerman hasn't just been following the news on the VA scandal, he has been living it.
Zimmerman said, “If the country is willing to send the troops over there, they should be willing to take care of them.”
He says the reassignment of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki doesn't go far enough. He feels there needs to be a change in the system.
Zimmerman said, “Like Medicare or Medicaid, where you take your card, you go into the hospital and you give it to them and that’s it. You go in and you are taken care of when you need it.”
The deputy director, Sloan Gibson, is now in charge of the VA.