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Van De Putte Says State Should Focus On Current Veteran Health Care Needs

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

State Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, D-San Antonio, said the state need not focus on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation. She said the state’s role in the VA backlog will be getting veterans to doctors while the federal system is being fixed.

Van De Putte, who chairs the Texas Senate Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee, said she agrees with other assessments that Shinseki has been too much of a distraction while the federal government attempts to fix the VA’s system for setting medical appointments.

But she said that’s not what she’s focused on right now.

"Whether it’s more physicians and nurses in facilities [or] a greater emphasis on community care so that when you don’t have the health care personnel within the VA system that veterans can readily use private practitioners,” Van De Putte said.

Van De Putte said getting veterans the care they need will be one of the things the Senate committee will discuss at its June 12 hearing in Houston. She said the state should be able to use its access to veteran’s personal information to help federal officials.

“We’ve got access to veterans; veterans turn to Texas and our veterans commission already," Van De Putte said. "Maybe we could help in a medical appointment so those expanded strike force teams would be able to use the collected data to alert the VA of concerns in real time.”

Van De Putte said for the state it’s about taking action, which means getting veterans the medical care they’ve been denied because of the appointment-setting backlog. The state of Texas has the second largest population of veterans in the nation.