Rep. Martha Roby addresses VA issues

Published 08/21 2014 06:48PM

Updated 08/21 2014 10:00PM

State officials announced today that James Talton, the director of the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, along with Chief of Staff Dr. Cliff Robinson, have been placed on administrative leave.

The announcement was made after U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) addressed business leaders in Dothan about what she and others call outrageous treatment of veterans.  She met with members of the Dothan Area Home Builders Association and other community leaders this afternoon to discuss jobs and the economy, in addition to the VA issues.

"Our veterans deserve access to the best healthcare right now,” said Roby.  “But at the same time, we have to hold those responsible for these horrible practices accountable."

A national audit this year revealed false scheduling records and patient wait time discrepancies.  Roby discussed how 57% of CAVHCS employees were instructed to create false lists, and she compared it to the national average of 11%.  She also referenced a report about a VA employee bringing a veteran to a crack house.

"This is about our men and women that wear the uniform, have worn the uniform, and put their lives on the line, and if we can't get it right with our veterans, we've got bigger problems than one would have imagined," Roby said.

She said it's not just one person responsible, but a culture has been created for years within the VA, and she said she and Senator Richard Shelby have called on VA Secretary Robert McDonald to come to Alabama to see the mismanagement first hand and help fix the problem.

"We have given Secretary McDonald the tools to do that with the legislation that we passed a few weeks ago, and we certainly expect for him to use those tools," said Roby.

Under the new legislation, veterans who live far away from clinics can now see private doctors.  The law also provides more funding for the VA to hire more doctors and nurses.

Roby says her goal is to continue focusing on the issue, and she says it's a matter Congress should not allow to be swept under the rug.

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