Vocal Tallahassee Veterans Expressed Concerns at the VA Town Hall Meeting

By Travis Milton
Outlook Writer

Veterans from all over the North Florida/South Georgia region packed the American Legion Hall Post 13 in Tallahassee on Oct. 8
The Department of Veterans Affairs and members of the North Florida/South Georgia Health System came to listen to the needs and concerns of their constituents as they tried to find solutions to their ongoing questions.

“Our goal at these meetings is to offer the opportunity to tell patients what is going on in the health system and to also hear what they have to say as to where we are doing good, where we need to get better, and what their needs are,” said Acting Director of the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System Nancy Reissener.

“It’s designed to be an open forum for an exchange of information between and the Department of Veterans Affairs and the public.”
Throughout the entire duration of the town hall meeting, mixed emotions were given off by many veterans being that some were appreciative, upset and confused about the services that are entitled to them per the government.

Questions about benefits, getting treatments, as well as concerns about bad experiences at doctor visits were all discussions brought up during the meeting.
One of the many questions was asked by Tallahassee Veteran Clarence Peterson.

Peterson, who served in the Vietnam War and in Desert Storm, was very inquisitive about receiving disability benefits for his time served in the military.
“I filed; then they turned me down. Then I appealed and they turned me down,” Peterson said.

Peterson said that he came to the town hall meeting to express his concerns and ask questions about the length of time that he should be able to hear back from the government after appealing his claim to receive disability benefits.

Discussions about the VA’s Veteran’s Choice Program was brought to the public’s attention at Thursdays’ meeting. This program enables veterans that live more than 40 miles away to be treated at a non-VA facility.

With a new VA clinic opening up in Tallahassee on East Orange Avenue, veterans of the North Florida/ South Georgia region can be more accessible to treatment rather than having to commute approximately 200 miles to Gainesville, Fla.

“I think the real benefit is giving veteran’s a chance, engage in leadership, and have their needs met,” says Chad Adams, the Assistant Director of Outpatient Clinics of the North Florida/ South Georgia Region.

The beautiful new 150,000 square foot clinical facility will be expanding specialty services and procedures, such as colonoscopy’s, so that patients will not have to travel all the way to Lake City or Gainesville for treatments.

The new clinic is expected to open up for patients in 2016.