Rep. Buck Discusses VA, Improving Services with Veterans – Julesburg Advocate

A series of issues and concerns were presented to U.S. Representative Ken Buck, R-Windsor, on Saturday morning on the final leg of his veteran listening tour at Eaton’s.

“I want to understand where we have gaps in Veterans Administration service [VA]Buck told a Weld County veterans hall. “If the VA isn’t meeting your needs, we need to figure out how it can.”

He explained that many veterans who have left active duty in the past 15 to 20 years are wary of the VA. With thousands of veterans in his 22-county district, Buck said communication is important.

A veteran present with a total disability complained about the late cancellation of medical appointments he had made. This same veteran has complained about a sleight of hand he receives by calling many people within the VA never to get a result.

“I’m a frustrated veteran,” he said.

Another veteran asked Buck to consider offering dental coverage to the totally disabled.

A survey in West Weld County was conducted to determine how veterans use services. The survey found that 75% of veterans use VA medical services and 75% visit the Loveland facility primarily for pain management, dental services and primary care.

“One of the most important things Congressman Buck wanted to do was listen and figure out what was working well,” District Manager Monica Daniels-Mika said.

The issue of suicide by veterans was also addressed. In Morgan County, a monthly public education event is held on the 22nd of each month to recognize the nation’s 22 veterans who commit suicide every day. Members of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars chapters usually stand with signs on certain street corners to draw attention to the problem, and they receive support from passers-by who honk their horns to recognize the veterans.

“We have a terrible suicide rate among veterans,” Buck said. “That’s part of the reason for this tour.”

He also told of a veteran who suffered from migraines so bad she couldn’t get off the couch, and after hyperbaric treatments she has now gained the mobility to climb mountains at heights over 10,000 feet.

Buck criticized the Assets and Infrastructure Review Board’s decision to close community outpatient clinics and other outpatient service sites in the eastern Colorado communities of Burlington, La Junta and Lamar, creating commutes much longer for medical services.

“I’m not here to denigrate the VA, but to make it better,” Buck said.

The commander of a local VFW added that his perception is that the American Legion and the VFW are both “strongly opposed” to the closures. He also criticized seeing VA doctors serving illegal immigrants at the border, an action he said takes the opportunity to serve away from veterans.

Several veterans told Buck that they had come to listen and offer solutions. A veteran’s wife explained that she would write letters to anyone who would listen in government to improve medical services for veterans.

“Government is not the answer to our problems,” Buck said. “But, we look to the government to find solutions.”

Richard F. Gandhi