Grijalva visits VA hospital in Tucson - Tucson News Now

Grijalva visits VA hospital

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

On the same day the interim secretary of the Veteran's Administration, Sloan Gibson, flew to Phoenix to answer questions about the waiting list scandal, Congressman Raul Grijalva toured the mental health wing of the VA hospital in Tucson.

Grijalva believes this is a "golden moment" for the VA.

"We can get a lot done because there's a great deal of pressure," he said.

There have been cases of scandal or concern about VA issues in the past which have not effected change.

But Grijalva believes this is a different crisis.

"Phoenix burst the bubble," he said. "For the veterans of the future, this is going to be a watershed moment."

"The VA has a crisis of resources right now," he said. "It has a crisis of confidence which must be dealt with."

The VA is accused of leaving 1,700 vets off a patient care list in Phoenix and then hiding it.

Grijalva believes it needs investigating as a criminal act.

"The Justice Department needs to go in," he said. "I think if there was criminal intent to cook the books, you jeopardize people's lives, there's criminality in that."

Grijalva is concerned about any move to privatize the VA health care system but supports Senator John McCain's compromise which will allow vets to seek care at other facilities if they live outside a 40 mile perimeter from a VA hospital.

There are 1.5 million vets from Iraq and Afghanistan who are now, or will be soon, seeking services.

The outreach to Vietnam vets is also adding to the workload.

"When I came back from Vietnam in 1968, we were told basically to go live our lives," Bill Wysong said. "No one told us there were benefits to the vet in 1968."

It wasn't until 2011 he learned he could receive treatment for PTSD, which he is doing now.

Grijalva toured the mental health unit because he believes it will be in great demand in the coming years.

"We had warning signs as far back as 2008 that this was coming," he said. "Phoenix burst the bubble and made this the crisis it is now."

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