According to the Chicago Tribune, letters sent by VA officials show as many as eight veterans in the Tri-State area were among more than 100 vets who waited longer than 90 days to for primary care treatment. Eight of those were served by the Evansville VA clinic and its downstate Illinois Marion parent facility.
It remains unknown how many of those patients were Evansville-area veterans. Some veterans and lawmakers suggest an overhaul of the VA health care system is well past due.
"I wish others would speak up, grab their heart, and say enough is enough," says Alan Kissinger, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps for eight years. Like many of his comrades, the combat-wounded veteran says he has struggled to get adequate medical care through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"Even if you're a veteran that's not suffering, there are veterans that are suffering that you can help. But you need a voice and this is where we've got to start."
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, says the VA is overwhelmed with disability claims. "It's been mismanaged. When we have secret waiting lists and the things that have been disclosed that's absolutely unacceptable. To wait months and even longer for a disability claim to be processed, to wait weeks and even months to be seen at a VA facility -- those are absolutely unacceptable," said Durbin.
The Senate Majority Whip suggests lawmakers need to come together on a bipartisan basis to get the VA the resources it needs, so veterans like Kissinger get the care they deserve.
Eyewitness News contacted the Evansville VA Medical Center, but we were directed to the Marion clinic. We reached out to that facility too, but our request for comment was never returned.