Veterans voice concerns at local VA clinic

The El Paso VA Health Care System hosted a town hall Wednesday afternoon.

Local veterans are voicing their concerns about the El Paso VA Health Care System.

The VA hosted a town hall Wednesday afternoon.

That’s where the director of the health care system gave a progress report of how the VA is doing.

But it also gave the veterans a chance to address some issues they have with the director.

"It takes time and he's trying to work on it, that's all I can ask,” said Miguel Sotomayor, a veteran and a veterans' advocate.

A big issue the veterans brought up is parking.

"I mean, we talked about the parking, I understand how the parking works,” said Army veteran Darrell Mond.

He is also the president of the El Paso Veterans and Riders Association.

He said the biggest issue with parking has to do with the disabled veteran license plates.

Mond told CBS4 veterans who have no physical ailments are taking up the handicap spots and their spouses are doing the same.

"A lot of the things they brought up were valid points. A lot of them were things I already knew,” said Michael Amaral, director of the El Paso VA Health Care System. "They're things I'm working on."

Another topic the veterans brought up was access to care.

"In my opinion, it's not too - waiting time, those 20 minutes that he says, you'll be there 20 minutes, sometimes it's not true, they - you wait longer,” said Sotomayor. "There's room for improvement."

Amaral said he is working to fix these issues.

"It's to get them in sooner, it's to treat them nicely while they're in the facility and it's to give them a great experience of care,” said Amaral.

He said the VA is having more luck recruiting staff.

Amaral told CBS4 he is also working to hold the staff accountable.

"So, we're working on that balance,” he said.

Amaral and the veterans we spoke with said some responsibility falls on the veterans, too.

"The accountability for veterans showing up and coming in for their scheduled appointments is really important,” said Amaral.

"The veteran should be a little patient,” said Sotomayor.

Amaral said according to the All-Employee Survey they have, the VA is becoming more of a positive place for folks to work, which in turn, provides a better atmosphere for the veterans.

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