A veteran fills out paperwork during The American Legion's Veterans Crisis Command Center in Phoenix. (Photo by Nick Oza)

Legion to set up veterans crisis center in Texas

The American Legion is sending a team of its experts to El Paso, Texas, next week in response to a recent Department of Veterans Affairs audit that showed long wait times for veterans seeking treatment at the city’s VA medical center.

According to the VA audit, 2,446 patients have been waiting more than 30 days for their medical appointments. The average wait time for all new patients to see their VA primary care provider is 35 days; the average wait time for specialty care is 89 days.

Members of The American Legion’s System Worth Saving Task Force will hold a town hall meeting and operate a crisis center for local veterans and family members affected by delays in getting access to their health care at the El Paso VA Health Care System.

The town hall meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on June 23 at American Legion Post 58 on 4724 Vulcan Ave. in El Paso. The meeting is open to the general public and local veterans are encouraged to attend, especially those affected by wait-time delays.

The American Legion will also set up a Veterans Crisis Command Center at Post 58 from June 24-27. Members of the Legion’s national staff, along with local Legionnaires, staff from VA facilities and volunteers from other organizations will be on hand to assist veterans and their families. Services provided will include assistance in filing for VA benefits claims, grief counseling and help with enrollment in VA health care.

Operating hours for the crisis center at Post 58 are noon to 8 p.m. on June 24, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. the 25th, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. the 26th, and 8 a.m. to noon on the 27th.

The American Legion is currently operating a crisis center at Post 202 in Fayetteville, N.C., which had 158 visitors on its first day. Last week, the Legion operated a crisis center at Post 1 in Phoenix, which assisted 590 veterans and family members affected by long delays in health-care access at the Phoenix VA Health Care System.