Veterans tell Donovan VA needs overhaul
Lawmaker meets with group in Dyker Heights
The problems associated with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including long waits to receive care at VA hospitals and delays in paperwork to obtain benefits, were among the topics of discussion when U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan sat down with a group of military veterans in Dyker Heights on Nov. 1.
Donovan (R-C-Southwest Brooklyn-Staten Island) held a round table discussion with local veterans at the Knights of Columbus John Hughes Council at 1305 86th St. The event, which took place 10 days before the Veterans Day holiday, featured frank talk about the problems veterans face, Donovan said.
The veterans outlined their struggles with the VA and filled Donovan in on other issues facing the country’s former service members, including high rates of unemployment, homelessness and mental health problems.
“American veterans sacrificed their time, their health, and in some cases, their bodies to protect our country and ideals. Their government needs to be responsive to their needs, and that’s what this roundtable was about,” Donovan said in a statement.
Donovan is a member of the House Homeland Security Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee.
The participants included representatives from the United Veterans of Kings County, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Jewish War Veterans, Catholic War Veterans, Marine Corps League, Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion.
Dyker Heights and its neighboring community, Bay Ridge, have a strong connection to military veterans, according to local officials, who pointed out that the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton is located in Bay Ridge and provides services to tens of thousands of veterans.
The fort is the only active military post in New York City.
The VA New York Harbor Health Care System, a hospital formerly known as the Brooklyn Veterans Administration Medical Center, is located at 800 Poly Place in Bay Ridge.
There are also numerous American Legion and VFW posts in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.
Several of the round table participants told Donovan about the importance of reforming the VA so that longstanding issues could be addressed such as delayed care, backlogged benefit claims and doctor and hospital shortages.
The health and safety needs of women veterans came up during the discussion.
Also discussed was the need to broaden job training and transition support programs for returning war veterans.
Donovan said he plans to use the information he gathered at the round table to inform his decisions on future legislation relating to veterans. “It was a privilege to hear from those who have served, and I’ll continue to advocate for improved healthcare, education and job opportunities for our vets,” he said.
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