Gunny VA Hospital lead

Wait times for veterans at America’s VA Hospitals have improved in certain areas in 2014, but not by much.

According to a report from USA Today, more than 600,000 veterans, which is 10 percent of all the Veterans Affairs patients, continue to wait at least one month for appointments at VA hospitals.

The VA has made some progress in dealing with the backlog of cases that forced former secretary Eric Shinseki to retire early this year. For instance, the VA substantially cut the overall number of worst-case scenarios for veterans — those who had waited more than four months for an appointment. That figure dropped from 120,000 in May to 23,000 in October. Much of that improvement occurred because patients received care from private providers.

Since May, the VA has been reduced the number of veterans waiting longest for care — its top priority — by 57 percent, according to James Hutton, a VA spokesman. From June to September, the VA completed 19 million appointments, an increase of 1.2 million compared with the same time last year.

“VA’s goal continues to be to provide timely, high-quality healthcare for veterans,” Hutton said in a statement. “Veterans and VA employees nationwide understand the need for reform, and VA is committed to putting these reforms into place. And while we have significantly improved capacity and access to care, we have not yet achieved our intended state — systemic and timely access across the board. It will be an ongoing and significant effort to reach our goals.”

See what R. Lee Ermey, more popularly known as “The Gunny,” had to say about America’s VA Hospitals and the problems plaguing our veterans when it comes to healthcare in the September 2014 issue of TACTICAL WEAPONS.

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