Senator Looks at the State of VA Facilities in Missouri

POPLAR BLUFF, MO -- More and more soldiers are coming home from Iraq with severe injuries that need proper treatment.  Over the past several weeks there have been many reports out of Walter Reed Army Hospital about the poor conditions there.

On Monday Missouri Senator Kit Bond visited a Region 8 hospital to ensure veterans are getting proper care.

Senator Bond is touring all the veterans facilities in the state of Missouri.  He said it's important to know the condition of the hospitals to know what needs to be changed.

"We are here to find out how the care is being received by the veterans we must care for," said Bond.

Many veterans came to voice their concerns about the system.

Some said they appreciate the service provided by Veterans Affairs but feel it's too hard for many getting to and from the hospital.  However, they do say it's worth it.

"Nothing but good, nothing but good," said veteran Terry Ferguson.

"It's convenient for me.  I am retired and otherwise it would be expensive for me to go elsewhere," said veteran Bill Fuller.

"We've got lots of problems with bureaucracy there and a major operation like this where we try to serve so many people we continue to hear problems," said Bond.

One primary problem is funding.  Over the past five years funding for VA hospitals has increased by about 72%, but more funding is still needed.

"We're going to be looking at obviously adding additional dollars that are needed by the VA system to deal with the challenges that are faced with," said Bond.

Many come back from war with serious injuries like post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

When soldiers first come back they go to a Department of Defense hospital like Walter Reed.

"As these injured warriors are being transferred to the VA it is important to make that transition seamless," said Bond.

In fact, Richard Frank at the VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff was hired to help make that transition easier for newly returning soldiers.

"It's important to get somebody to go out and make contact with those units that are coming back and facilitate the seamless transition of personnel into our VA," said Frank.

Any veteran has the option of going to a VA hospital for any treatment they need.