CATHLAMET — Local area veterans had the opportunity to meet with U.S. Reps. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and Jaime Herrera-Beutler, R-Wash., on Saturday, Nov. 18. Congressman Roe is chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Veterans Affairs.
During his comments, Roe said that while backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs has been reduced, there are still 470,000 claims on the waiting list. Roe said the VA has a problem in attracting and retaining qualified medically trained personnel. Waiting lines, at some facilities, are still too long.
The VA has 168 medical centers and 800 outpatient clinics throughout the U.S. Roe said there are signs of progress in improving conditions for veterans. In 2010, $93.5 billion was earmarked for veterans’ assistance. That has been increased to $186.5 billion in the current budget. Funding for the VA is the second largest line item in the budget, according to the congressman. He reported the U.S. spends more money on veterans than the combined sum of every other country in the world.
Roe and Herrera-Beutler listened to comments from local area veterans on a range of healthcare-related topics. In general, while some concerns were raised about appointment times, the majority concerned problems encountered with non-medical administrative staff.
Both members of Congress pledged to continue efforts to improve veterans’ healthcare.