The listening tour of the new head of the Veterans Administration came to Delaware.
Creating a better network for veterans looking for medical care, and other resources remains a top priority for officials who came together to discuss challenges and changes on the way to help.
“Those who have served our country and defended our freedom deserve the best care we can possibly provide, to heal both physical and emotional wounds,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del).
On Monday, Robert A. McDonald, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs along with U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del), U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, and Rep. John Carney met with leadership at the Wilmington VA Medical Center, veterans and organizations representing soldiers for Sen. Carper’s annual Veterans Summit.
The summit happened to take place at a time McDonald has been meeting with veteran organizations across the country to make sure veterans issues are addressed and not put on the back burner.
“It is feedback from meetings like today’s summit and from employee town halls that are informing VA’s reorganization and our efforts to look at everything we do through the lens of the Veteran,” McDonald added.
As a result, a few changes will take place. “We’re creating a VA wide customer service organization that’s going to be focused on caring for veterans, also we’ve appointed a chief veterans experience officer, somebody responsible for making sure that veteran experience is good,” said McDonald who’s also working to identify opportunities to realign the agency to make business simpler so veterans know who to contact, and how to navigate the system.
The wait veterans have experienced to get benefits and other services were addressed as well.
“One of the ways we improved access to care is we hired more providers. We hired over 8,000, almost 1,000 are doctors,” McDonald said.
In addition there are expanded clinical hours, new facilities and in some cases veterans are placed in private care which is another improvement, according to McDonald. The way benefits are processed has also changed and turned digital to prevent and reduce the back log of claims.
“Delaware’s veterans made tremendous sacrifices in service to our nation. They deserve the highest quality medical care and a system that’s responsive to their needs,” said Rep. John Carney (D-Del).
Following the meeting at the hospital, McDonald and Sen. Carper visited the University of Delaware to speak to medical students regarding opportunities to help veterans.
“In VA, we do life saving research, we also train over 70 percent of the doctors in this country and those doctors that do that research and do that training also work and provide great clinical care for our veterans,” McDonald said.
“I am proud that we had the opportunity to host the Secretary in the First State and that he was able to meet with our veterans, VA medical center staff, and students at the University of Delaware. He is committed to providing the veterans who sacrificed so much for us with the care and benefits they rightly deserve and I will continue working with my colleagues in the Senate to carry out this critical mention,” Sen. Carper said.