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Local veterans on VA's future

by Evan White

Rochester, N.Y.--John White's experience with local hospitals run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been pleasant.

"All of the issues about waiting for appointments, I haven't experienced any of that," explained White.

A retired Marine, White was deployed to Vietnam in 1967. Leg injuries made it a short deployment, he returned three months later and finished his career with the Marines after four years.

The problems with the VA that caused its leader, Eric Shinseki to resign, come from being part of such a large bureaucracy, said White.

"You have locations that are managed well, and locations that are not managed well," White added.

James Fuller, served in the U.S. Army from 1969-1972, and has not have good experience with VA hospitals since returning.

"I was there for three weeks knowing I had many, many mental issues," said Fuller.

He was dismissed without care for various mental problems, according to Fuller.

"The VA needs a different business plan," said Todd Baxter, Chief Executive Officer of the Veteran's Outreach Center in Rochester.

He suggested the VA adopt a model similar to its homeless veterans prevention program, which gives local agencies control of how money is spent.

"We have the resources here," Baxter said.

There are more than 45,000 veterans in Monroe County, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

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Washington Times