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VA Gets Billions To Fix Problems

By Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent
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ACTON – (CBS) – Lawmakers in Washington D.C. just reached a $17 billion dollar bi-partisan deal to fix problems.

We’ve heard the horror stories of some vets dying while waiting for care.

As Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve shows us, local veterans families are hopeful.

“I am glad that things are progressing.”

Suzanne Chase of Acton hopes this legislation will make a difference in veterans’ lives. Last month, we told about how her husband, Doug, a Vietnam veteran, got a doctor’s appointment at the VA in Bedford, two years after he died in 2012. An outrageous mistake which the VA apologized for.

Chase says, “I think I will be the most excited when the changes get down to the veterans themselves. When they can get an appointment when they need one.”

Today’s legislation includes billions in emergency spending to make it easier for veterans to get those appointments – $5 billion to hire doctors, another $1.5 billion to lease 27 new clinics across the country.

Representative Jeff Miller of Florida says, “This agreement will go a long way towards resolving the crisis, that exists out there today. Helping to get veterans off waiting lists is extremely important and this bill does that.”

In Massachusetts, UMass Medical School could be part of the solution. In statement to WBZ, the hospital says they are “currently in active conversations with the VA to explore ways that we can improve access to health care, particularly access to specialists, close to home for veterans in our area.”

Chase says, “If he could been treated closer to home it would have saved him a lot of discomfort.”

Suzanne Chase was also denied funeral burial benefits by the VA and the stated reason at the time was because her husband had not been treated at a VA facility, but since our story first aired, the state of Massachusetts has stepped in to help.

“It is not a great deal of money but every little bit helps.”

And Chase says helping veterans is what the VA should be doing.

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