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Legion to set up crisis center in Phoenix

The American Legion is sending a team of experts to Phoenix next week to set up a Veterans Crisis Command Center to help veterans and family members affected by the health-care scandal at the city’s Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center.

The crisis center, located at American Legion Post 1 on 364 N. 7th Ave., will open its doors at noon on June 10. It is the Legion’s latest response to a situation at the VA facility that has kept 1,400 veterans waiting for medical appointments, and kept another 1,700 off any type of waiting list. The preventable deaths of patients have been linked to what VA’s Office of Inspector General has called a “convoluted” scheduling system.

"We came to Phoenix last month and heard complaints from many veterans at our town hall meeting,” said Verna Jones, director of the Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division in Washington. “Not only are we going there to listen again, but we are going to follow up on their concerns, and provide services and support in their time of crisis.”

Another town hall meeting for local veterans and the community at large is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, June 9, also at American Legion Post 1. The meeting will be streamed live at www.legiontv.org.

The next day, Jones and her staff will meet with the Phoenix VA facility’s acting director and staff to learn about their action plan to provide immediate care for more than 3,000 veterans who have been waiting for their medical care.

Jones said the Legion’s crisis center will have a “triage team” to identify problems of those who visit the center, then direct them to appropriate stations on-site for benefits claims, enrollment in VA health care and bereavement counseling. Individuals will also be given the opportunity to share their experiences with any local media outlets reporting on the activities.

The claims station will assist those who may be eligible to file benefits claims with VA that are associated with their lack of medical care. If it can be proven that veterans perished because of delayed care, or their conditions worsened, dependency and indemnity compensation benefits may be awarded.

Accredited Legion representatives will also help to enroll veterans into the VA health-care system, and help those who believe their care has been unduly delayed but not yet identified as such by VA.

Grief counselors at the crisis center will assist family members who have lost loved ones due to VA negligence. Counselors from VA Vet Centers will also be on hand to help affected veterans. Long wait-times may have caused or aggravated mental-health conditions such as depression.

Ron Abrams, co-executive director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program in Washington, will also be available to discuss any legal issues with visitors. He is also an accredited American Legion representative.

Ralph Bozella, chairman of The American Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission, said the crisis center in Phoenix will serve as a template for helping veterans in other cities affected by VA’s wait-list scandal.

“The American Legion wants to help restore the faith of veterans in the VA health-care system,” Bozella said. “We can do that by reaching out and helping people affected by the current VA scandal. That’s why we’re going to Phoenix. That’s why we’ll be going to other cities where men and women who have served America need our help.”

The crisis center will be open from noon to 8 p.m. on June 10, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the 11th and 12th, and 8 a.m. to noon on the 13th.

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Glen St John

June 11, 2014 - 12:17pm

How Nice: The crisis center, located at American Legion Post 1 on 364 N. 7th Ave., will open its doors at noon on June 10. I wonder about all the other veterans that can not get to this post? It whould have been nice to include other Posts in this operation. Maybe not at the same time but, Hey rotation, I remember that from the Army.

Frank P Calderon

June 6, 2014 - 12:27am

Dear Cmmdr. Dellinger: This was essentially my message; that the only solution I see to all our world problems is God, I stated,there will be some that may not agree with me but it is obvious man is not capable of settling all that we face today, and there is a concept regarding supporting this opinion and this is what it says it titled," God said let us create man to our image," and man's concept has been perverted to read, to read,"let us make God to our image," and it has been so since time immemorial, I ask, When will man learn who is in charge? obviously and most tragically when God's wrath comes down on mankind as it has been from the beginning of time.

Frank P Calderon

June 6, 2014 - 12:13am

Dear Cmmdr: Approximately, 15 minutes ago I sent you a comment,did you receive it? it was not an application for membership, because I already am a life member. This was my opinion as to what is the only solution to remedy the world's ills. Yours for God and Coiuntry Frank P Calderon

Roger, in Bangkok

June 5, 2014 - 9:16pm

It's far worse for those veterans living overseas, not quite so bad though for military retirees. Many (probably most) of us have lost what benefits we had before moving offshore. In my case the climate is much more conducive to physical comfort and survival, while economically I have been able to stay off of living obn the streets the past 30 years. A visit to ER here in Thailand might cost me upwards of $5~10, if meds or supplies are involved while an out patient visit/checkup rarely exceeds $20.

Eric B. DeWitt

June 5, 2014 - 3:57pm

I am 80% disabled and my primary care provider retired last year. They did not replace her. But just scheduled her patients to other providers " As they called for appointments". Even before she left they were trying to do phone in appointments.

Berta Simmons

June 5, 2014 - 1:57pm

Is the AL going to advise survivors of their recourses through FTCA, and/or Section 1151, 38 USC claims, for proper compensation? VA killed my husband with lousy care ....too. I was successful with FTCA settlement and DIC under 1151. There is an offset factor to succeeding in both types of claims.1997-1998 I overcame that offset by proving as well that my husband died of undiagnosed/untreated DMII from AO contributing to death (2010) and also ,under Nehmer, I proved direct SC death due undiagnosed/untreated AO IHD.(2012) Rod Simmons USMC 1stMARDIV Vietnam 1965-1966.

Vince Ansel

June 4, 2014 - 1:05am

I am 80% Service Connected Disabled with a list of Agent Orange ailments. I am still only able to get an appointment with my Primary Care physician only very rarely. My next appointment with him will be a "phone consultation" in 6 months. I'm not blaming the doctor for this. As I understand it, an edict from VA "higher ups" was instituted at or around 2008. This edict dictated that Primary Care Physicians must schedule 30 to 40% of their patient load to "phone consultations" rather than in thorough face to face physical examinations. This policy needs to be addressed and eliminated. How can anyone be competently evaluated with these phony "phone consultations"?

Robert_Heinrich

June 3, 2014 - 9:40pm

It isn't just Phoenix, it's the whole state of Arizona. I deal with the Flagstaff Clinic I have had to be very persistent in order to get any appointments. Plus I lost my job because of the uncertainty of my appointments through the VA system. I moved to Arizona From Florida where I was first introduced to the VA. My Wife and I moved to Arizona so she could pursue her Masters in Creative writing. We arrived in Arizona on July 26th 2013. That Monday my wife and I went to the Flagstaff Clinic to enroll here. I didn't receive my first Appointment until Nov. 16th 2013 nearly 4 months later. I was already in the system with an ID. I was even told that the VA isn't Health insurance by one of the Flagstaff Clinic Nurses. I told her I am 80% disabled this better be my insurance for the sacrifice I made to this Country with my Neck and Back. This system is so broken I only hope we can correct it.

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