Maryland veterans share issues over Baltimore V.A. care at town hall

ROSSVILLE, Md. - It now appears V.A. healthcare facilities in Maryland are not immune to problems surfacing in other parts of the country.

A newly released federal audit shows the average wait time for new patients looking for primary care at the veterans facility in Baltimore is 81 days.

Veterans gathered at the Rossville VFW hall Monday night to speak with Robert Wallace, the executive director of the VFW's Washington office.

“What's happened is a disgrace,” Wallace said.

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One veteran said a knee problem was diagnosed, then not treated. 

“The pain is still there, it wakes me at night. Same problem that I had when I walked in there in July of 2012,” he said.

Wallace put many of them in contact with staff members who can solve their problems individually.

Last month, Dr. Adam Robinson who is the chief of staff for the V.A. Maryland Health Care System told ABC2’s Jamie Costello that issues in places like Phoenix and New Mexico, were not happening here.

“As a veteran it breaks my heart to see other veterans who are not getting what they need. I'm very happy to be in a system in Maryland where we individualize care for all the veterans,” Robinson said.

But the federal audit shows the average wait time for new patients at the V.A. in Baltimore -- is 80.81 days, fourth worst in the country.

“Young soldiers coming back from theater they are suffering, I can assure you of that,” said Master Sgt. Jim Burcham, a US Army reservist who says he has also felt the effects of a recent tour of duty in a war zone.  A four-month wait for an appointment here at home didn't help.

“The response to that was, go to the clinic,” Burcham said.  “I said well I'd like to get an appointment.  They said go to the clinic and they'll see you there. I'm like, I'd like to see somebody.  They said go to the clinic. That was the response"

As part of that audit the V.A. announced a number of changes it hopes will lead to better care for veterans, including filling vacant doctor positions, and allowing veterans to use doctors outside the system, then get reimbursed.

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