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Local veterans' frustrations with VA on display at town hall meeting

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Frustrated veterans filled a town hall meeting with Veterans Affairs officials, detailing their concerns with a health care system that has them dissatisfied and displeased, the Star Tribune reports.

About 200 people, half of them veterans, attended the meeting at the Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building Friday morning.

The town hall was part of a nationwide effort by the Department of Veterans Affairs to reshape its image and hear concerns, WCCO reports, following reports this year of substandard care and falsified records across the country.

Local Veterans Affairs officials were in attendance touting their record in recent months, the Star tribune says, but also acknowledging that errors, if they were made, need to be addressed.

Veterans didn't seem as optimistic.

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“By far, this is the worst VA I've attended," said one speaker, according to FOX 9. Another said the local leadership was there "for show" and "are untrained to provide quality health care."

The station lists more grievances voiced by attendees.

KSTP reports one veteran said he'd tell VA workers about issues he suffered from, but he'd "get looked at like I'm a damn liar."

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Bruce Anderson, a Republican state senator for the Maple Lake and Buffalo area, said at the meeting the people responsible for the issues "need to be held accountable," KARE 11 reports.

Added Patrick Kelly, the Minneapolis VA Medical Center director: "If there are things we're not doing right or if we need to make course corrections we want to do it," KARE 11 reports.

Recent claims of falsified records

The town hall also comes on the heels of a KARE 11 investigation that found employees at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center falsified records.

In the detailed KARE 11 report (read and watch the report here), two employees told the station they were instructed to write that patients declined a follow-up treatment, when in reality they’d never been contacted. Some of the cases involved patients with cancer, the employees told KARE.

Both were fired after the falsified reports were brought to higher-ups in the Minneapolis VA, and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel is investigating claims they were fired for blowing the whistle, KARE says. The clinic denies that.

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz wrote a letter to acting Inspector General Richard Griffin asking for those claims to be investigated further.

The Star Tribune says the inspector general was in Minnesota this week to do just that.

“If these allegations prove true, I was not given the full story from VA officials during my visit to the facilities, and during numerous interactions since,” Walz, who serves on the Veterans Affairs Committee, wrote.

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