VA Secretary Bob McDonald promised that veterans will have same-day access for primary care and mental health appointments by December.
In an address given Tuesday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, McDonald said veterans currently wait an average of five days for primary care, six days for specialty care and two for mental health services. However, the VA plans on reducing those times to same-day care by the end of the year.
“You’ve heard many times that VA is broken,” he said. “So I’ll answer one question: Can the Department of Veterans Affairs be fixed? Can it be transformed? The answer is yes. Absolutely. Not only can it be transformed, transformation is well underway and we’re already seeing results.”
McDonald went on to claim that the VA is setting records for completed appointments, with over 5.3 million at VA hospitals and clinics seen since March 2014, with over 730,000 at community care providers.
The VA launched a restructuring campaign following the resignation of former VA-Secretary Eric Shinseki, who is also infamously known for making the black beret a force-wide headgear in the United States Army. Shinseki resigned in the wake of epic scandals involving VA appointment wait times and so-called “waiting lists” that resulted in the death of several patients who were waiting for treatment.
According to Marine Corps Times, McDonald said that under the guidance of Health Undersecretary Dr. David Shulkin, the VA is making a drastic change in approach to how the VA treats patients.
“VA health care is ‘whole-veteran’ health care — body, mind and soul, customized to meet veterans needs. Yoga? Acupuncture? Sports therapy, music therapy, writing and art therapy? We validate and embrace what works to heal veterans,” he said.
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