Shumlin to vets: ‘What else can we do to help’


MONTPELIER -- The average wait time for military veterans in Vermont to see a doctor is better than the national average, according to recent data from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Almost 95 percent of veterans’ appointments at the White River Junction VA Medical Center were scheduled in under 30 days, according to data in a department report July 3. The rate for VA medical centers nationwide was about 90 percent.

"The least we can do is to find ways to honor you and to insure that when you come home, we’re doing everything that we can to take care of you as long as you’re on this earth," Gov. Peter Shumlin said Tuesday at an event recognizing new laws affecting veterans.

VA New England spokeswoman Maureen Heard said Vermont’s veterans hospital is one of the best in New England.

Nationally, health care for veterans has faced scrutiny amid internal reports of protracted wait times, messy scheduling practices and a high-profile scandal involving falsified records at a Phoenix VA medical center.

Shumlin said he was horrified by the national reports, but said Vermont is on the right track.

"We’re doing much better here in Vermont but my question always is ... what else can we do to help?" Shumlin said.

White River Junction director Deborah Amdur said the medical center does well in comparison with others around the country.

"Any veteran that urgently needs to be seen, we just get them in," Amdur said.

Amdur has requested further investigation by the inspector general’s office of the Department of Veterans Affairs. A timeline for the release of the audit has not yet been set.

The medical center is also looking to increase access to some specialized care, including in-house cataract surgery, which previously required travel to Boston. Amdur said in-house dental care and specialty treatments for Hepatitis C are also in the plans.


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