As the Department of Veterans Affairs comes under fire nationally for issues at some of its hospitals, many in Oklahoma are voicing concerns about the quality of VA care, locally.
Tulsa's Channel 8 sat down with a local Iraq War veteran who says, wait times have been a major problem for him when seeking care.
After multiple tours of Iraq as a U.S. Marine, Jon Goodman is back home in Jenks with his wife and family. But, his quest for care with the VA in Oklahoma has been met with challenges. "I had a broken hand and had to get X-rays on it and it took over a week to get in and by the time I got X-rays, the bone had already started healing," he said.
Long wait times have been just one of the complaints, common among veterans seeking care. "It takes a month, or even longer, to get an appointment and, then, when you get there, your appointment is pushed back two hours or you have to go to Muskogee or your appointment gets canceled without notification."
Goodman says, in his experience, the issues have not been caused by those working locally. "There's just so many people there that need care and it's just -- it's overwhelming." He adds that the National Department of Veterans Affairs has left areas like Tulsa underfunded and understaffed, with more and more veterans returning home and needing care. "You know, they quadrupled the workload and it's going to come -- it's going to have to come from the federal level and they need to help us to expand our local resources at the VA," Goodman said.
With high suicide rates among veterans returning from war, Goodman worries that those in need of psychiatric care are slipping through the cracks. "I mean, that's the hard part. People who really need care aren't getting it instantly, when they need it."
The Center for Investigative Reporting says, in the decade after 9/11, the VA has paid six families in eastern Oklahoma for cases of wrongful death.
Tulsa's Channel 8 made multiple requests for comment to the Department of Veterans Affairs, but we did not receive a response.