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VA Secretary To Visit Idaho

Crapo invited McDonald, who plans Boise stop June 28

Washington, D.C. - Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald will visit Boise next week to speak with patients and staff at the VA Medical Center.  Idaho Senator Mike Crapo urged McDonald to visit Idaho to learn firsthand the concerns of Idaho veterans over heath care and other services.  Crapo's invitation comes after he heard of Idahoans' concerns through two years' worth of surveys with Idaho vets.  Crapo has since sponsored health care reform legislation for veterans.  The Department of Veterans Affairs confirms that McDonald will be in Boise on Tuesday, June 28.


Because the Secretary is visiting while the U.S. Senate is in session, Crapo staff will represent him during the visit.  Crapo has invited veterans and their representatives to attend a working session that will include Idaho representatives from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Vets and other groups the Senator has been working with to assist Idaho vets.  The Veterans Affairs Administration currently plans for the Secretary to meet with VA employees, patients and service providers, including those working with the Veterans Choice Program (VCP).


In the invitation to the Secretary to visit Idaho, Crapo noted the Veterans Choice Program is not working for many veterans.  "The results demonstrate the VA has much more work to do to meet the needs of veterans," Crapo said. "The surveys, as well as personal visits with veterans throughout the state, also show the greatest gap between veterans' expectations and VA delivery is health care.  For many, the Veterans Choice Program simply is not working as it should."


Crapo also invited the Secretary to review the results of two years' worth of Idaho veterans' surveys.  Crapo has sponsored new federal legislation to make changes in how the VA administers health care to veterans outside of VA medical facilities.  Crapo told McDonald that the new proposals focus on veteran access to specialty care and care in their community when access to VA medical centers is difficult or unfeasible.  "As Congress and the VA work to improve veterans' access to care, first-hand accounts from Idaho's veterans can provide you with a strong foundation to guide agency personnel as they seek to improve programs," Crapo added.