NORTH PORT, Fla. -- Testifying on Capitol Hill Wednesday, acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson proclaimed that faith in the Office of Veterans Affairs has been lost.
"As a consequence of all these failures the trust that is the foundation of all we do, the trust of the Veterans we serve and the trust of the American people has been eroded."
Local veterans agree the headlines have been concerning. "It looks very bad." Locally there have not been many complaints. North Port AMVET member Barbara McGann served as an army nurse as recently as 2006.
“I don't think in general the entire population has lost their faith in the VA system," said McGann.
McGann says she's gotten better care at Bay Pines healthcare system in St. Petersburg and the local clinic in Sarasota than anywhere else.
"My personal experience with the VA system has actually been very very good."
McGann is not alone. Terry Corson is the commander here—the second largest AMVET post in the state of Florida with nearly 850 members.
"Generally speaking, the VA is a favorable topic around here," explained Corson.
Corson says the system isn't perfect. They do hear some complaints, but they are mostly about attempts at qualifying for disability. "He is hearing it is going to be 1-2 years before he hears something. That is not what I have generally been hearing."
However, we couldn't find a single vet here to say something negative about the VA. Corson says the AMVETs actually have a representative at the VA who helps their members when needed.
"We had a gentleman in here the other day who just got new hearing aids. He was smiling big time," Corson recalled.
Of course there have been some troubled areas around the country, and it's more than likely that there are some veterans in our area having issues with the VA. Gibson says 160,000 veterans have already been contacted to get off waiting lists and into clinics. For the most part here, though, it appears the concern is less.
"I have received excellent care from the VA system and I will continue to go to the VA system," assured McGann.
Some law-makers are saying there are some things which would obviously help the situation--more providers and locations with the latest in equipment would be productive steps for the system.