Finally a chance for Wichita veterans to be heard, but will it be enough? After a federal push to fix the problems at Veterans Affairs offices around the country, Wichita's VA office scheduled a town hall meeting. Friday afternoon, vets got to share their concerns.
"I don't feel like I'm owed anything. To serve for this country was both a privilege and an honor," said veteran Mark Borofsky. "All I've been asking the VA is to help me for service connected disability from Agent Orange."
Veterans like Borofsky have been waiting years to get their claims processed through the Veterans Affairs Office. For many, it's a second battle after the one they fought for our country. "I filed a claim January 4, 2010," said Borofsky. "It took you guys 12 months to tell me no. You told me my ship was in Vietnam, but I wasn't on the ship."
Corey Johnson medically retired after serving in Afghanistan. He asked Wichita's Regional Office Director Mitzi Marsh if her front desk staff was adequately trained to help him with forms and paperwork mailed to him from the regional office.
Marsh told Johnson her employees have been there several years and are well versed. Johnson told Marsh they do not appear to be. Johnson said a representative from the regional office said to him, "I don't know what you need to do, I'm just the messenger."
"Okay, well if we're responding like that then we need to have training," replied Marsh.
Some of the vets say they feel like a burden to the VA office and they have little faith their claims will ever be processed. "It's like you guys are in the 19th century on this," said Borofsky. "With all the computers and software programs and everything, you'd think you'd be able to streamline it better."
"We have improved our claims process," said Marsh. "But we have a long way to go."
After the town hall meeting, Eyewitness News asked Marsh for her thoughts on the veterans' frustrations.
"The veterans were open and honest and obviously they're very concerned, which I am concerned," said Marsh. "We want to serve our veterans and get their claims completed."
Marsh says her employees are currently on a mandated overtime schedule, working ten hours a day, seven days a week, to get the backlog cleared. She says her office is trying to meet the 2015 federal goals of having no claims pending over 125 days, a 98% accuracy rate, and ending homelessness for veterans.
A town hall meeting for the Veterans Hospital Administration is scheduled for September 26 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. It will be held in the auditorium of the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in building 4.