Iris Barnes contributed to this report.
JACKSON, Miss.–You might remember a meeting last year where Mississippi veterans said they were not getting good care at the state’s largest V.A. hospital, the G.E. Sonny Montgomery Medical Center. Tuesday Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs was in Mississippi to talk with the administration there.
He was originally scheduled to tour some of the facilities, but said he opted to have a lengthy discussion with administrators instead.
The reason: complaints from employees that include, and have included in the past, poor sterilization, diseases that have gone undiagnosed, or were misdiagnosed, and staffing problems that may have too many nurse practitioners and not enough doctors working there.
“Transparency and accountability is critical,” said Miller, who stood alongside Cong. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) for a 20 minute Q and A with reporters.
“It’s very hard to turn a ship around where there’s a bureaucratic bow wave, but there are people in the administration that want to do the right thing,” he said.
Miller would not get specific about problems in Mississippi, but rather chose to address general concerns that are going on across the country.
He did acknowledge that there had been a 70 percent change in the administration at the V.A., which he said could be good or bad, depending on how long open positions are left unfilled.
“Accountability is what most people want to see,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s easier to within the V.A. to get a bonus than it is to get fired, and that’s not right.”
Miller said there have been instances, which have recently come out in the national media, where veterans are not given appointments and have died waiting on those appointments. He said one simple solution to that would be to outsource the care, which he said is possible within the V.A. system.