By Stan Bush
DENVER (CBS4) – A new report shows Denver-area VA hospitals are failing to meet the needs of our veterans.
The average patient waits 42 days for an appointment.
The new VA medical center is expected to open next spring.
Michael Deitz says he’s reminded of his years in the service every time he walks.
“I take a step on the ground and there’s bolts of electricity coming out,” Deitz says.
A pain the retired Army Staff Sergeant says he earned from more than a decade in the service, including assignments in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
But Deitz says with backups in the VA system, it takes nearly a month for him to see a doctor, meaning he’s left living in agony.
“There are other people worse off than me so I just suck it up and deal with it,” Deitz says.
Denver’s VA system ranks is one of the country’s worst when it comes to wait times. An appointment to see primary care doctors can take more than a month.
“My office has gotten a lot of calls from vets who are having difficulty navigating the system in Colorado,” Representative Mike Coffman says.
Coffman says the VA aims to get wait times down to day-of service once the over-budget and often-delayed new VA medical center is completed in Aurora.
Without it, there’s no silver bullet to the problem facing veterans when they return home from the battlefield.
“The new hospital will help bring down the appointment wait times, but it certainly has been a problem,” Coffman says.
The lawmaker says getting into the new facility is critical because of its size and because it has the chance to entice more talent to work there and serve veterans.