Veterans and their families gathered at the Word of Life Church at Mud Fork, W.Va. Wednesday Aug. 19 for a Veteran’s Affairs (VA) claims processing clinic and a town hall where veterans were able to voice their concerns with the VA system in relation to care, customer service and a myriad of other issues.
During the claims processing clinic during the morning, veterans were able to file new claims, check the statuses of previous claims and receive counseling on the claims process as a whole.
Members of the leadership team from the Huntington VA Medical Center were present at the town hall meeting to address the concerns of local veterans. Director Brian Nimmo, Associate Medical Center Director Pamela Smith, Chief of Staff Jeffrey Breaux and Associate Director for Patient Care Services Lyumma Archeval each took time to respond to veterans’ concerns in relation to the their specific duty. Director of the Huntington Regional Benefit Office for the VA Shannon Kelly was also on hand to respond to questions under his purview.
While responding to questions from a veteran who attended the meeting surrounding the speed at which the VA moves, Kelly explained, “We definitely have sped up. Our processes have sped up. We are about 98 or 99 percent electronic now, so everything is in the system. Speeding up, in and of itself, does you no good unless you are providing a quality product. I can tell you, for us, we have already done more claims this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, than we have ever done in a complete fiscal year, so we are moving faster. Our quality is improving and our speed is definitely improving.”
Troy Varney, chapter president of the Veteran’s Center in Henlawson, W.Va voiced the questions and concerns of several veterans who had come to him with their issues. Varney explained, “When you use the choice card and you go to the…outpatient…and you go to get travel [reimbursement] you still have to come back to the hospital…and then they don’t want to pay you for the mileage. They pay you from your house to the hospital. They don’t pay you from the house to where you go to get your appointment and then you have to travel back to the hospital. Sometimes that’s an extra 70 or 80 miles out of your way.”
Nimmo responded, “That not right. If that’s what’s happening, we can fix that.”
The Veterans Center in Henlawson will host a meeting Thursday, Aug. 20 at 6 p.m.
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1729 or by email at [email protected]