U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis is inviting veterans to attend a town hall meeting for what he’s calling a “candid conversation” about their experiences with local Veterans Affairs offices.
The event will take place June 5 at 10 a.m., at New Port Richey City Hall, 5919 Main St., in New Port Richey. Although it’s focused on veterans, it is open to the public.
Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, said in a release that he wants to hear directly from veterans regarding access to care and any delays they may be experiencing from VA hospitals. That feedback will then be used to “inform his legislative approach” in trying to improve those conditions in the future.
VA hospitals have been under fire recently because of long delays in care, and reports of “secret waiting lists” where some veterans waited longer to see a medical professional than what was reported to the federal government. Bilirakis and other lawmakers, primarily Republican lawmakers, called for Veterans Affairs secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. Shinseki did that Friday, citing his presence to being a continuing distraction that could hamper efforts to correct many of the problems there.
The overburdened hospitals have dated back to before the Obama administration however, and have only become bigger problems with the influx of new patients stemming from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I have spent the past several months participating in oversight hearings in Washington regarding the failures of the VA throughout the country,” Bilirakis said, in a release. “Having spent a great deal of time at facilities in our community over the last several years, I know that there are many wonderful public servants at our local VA offices. However, I need to hear directly from those who matter most, our veterans and their families, in order to get the clear picture regarding how these systemic national problems may be impacting my constituents.”