The Times West Virginian

Local News

July 8, 2014

Rep. David McKinley talks to veterans about VA issues

CLARKSBURG — Veterans in Harrison County got to voice their concerns and thoughts about Veterans Affairs hospitals.

During a roundtable discuss with U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., veterans with the Meuse-Argonne Post 573 expressed their concerns about dealing with Veterans Affairs hospitals in the area and the state. The roundtable was a part of McKinley visiting the area and meeting with VA directors and union workers.

Some of the concerns included communication between the VA and veterans, and the delays that they have to deal with. They also told McKinley some of their personal stories with VA hospitals.

Veteran Dick Hopkins told McKinley that he had a great experience with the VA hospital in Clarksburg but had trouble with the VA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Hopkins has heart issues and went to the Louis Johnson VA Medical Center for care.

“Out of this VA I’ve had nothing but good care,” he said.

Hopkins said he needed heart surgery and the VA in Pennsylvania continued to make him go through several testings, which delayed his surgery.

“I kept getting weaker and weaker,” he said.

He said with the delays on his surgery, he ended up in the hospital for three weeks. Eventually he was called in for

surgery, which benefited him tremendously.

Some of the veterans who participated in the discussion said that when they are able to meet with officials at the VA or set appointments, they have a good experience. One veteran said he had excellent service when he attended his appointments at the VA in Clarksburg.

Other concerns involved appointments and treatment issues. McKinley made a list of action items he will talk over with his staff about and hopefully determine solutions.

That list includes having Beth Brown, director of the VA hospital in Clarksburg, attend meetings involving state VA hospitals; more privacy, and follow-up calls to veterans six months after treatment.

McKinley told the veterans that one of the biggest problems with VA hospitals is emergency rooms. He said emergency rooms are being packed and several veterans needing care are having to wait a long time.

“That’s the biggest thorn everywhere,” he told them.

McKinley said having these roundtable discussions with veterans about their concerns and thoughts with the VA hospital is important because they are the ones who benefit from the hospitals.

“Some of those action statements are very doable,” he said. “I want to compare them from what I’ve had at other meetings and maybe get back to them so the VA can implement them.”

With the recent news of delays hurting veterans around the country, McKinley said it’s much better to hear the concerns and thoughts from those who are dealing with it daily.

“I don’t like what happened in Arizona where 40 people died waiting for care,” he said. “Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen here in West Virginia.”

McKinley said he will take all the veterans’ concerns and experience from Monday and learn from them. He said he will also work to fix those issues with the VA hospital in the area and the state.

Email Emily Gallagher at or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.

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