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Government/Politics

Gov. Abbott And VA Secretary Hold Open Forum With Vets About Doctor Visits

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Ryan E. Poppe
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Governor Greg Abbott

At a meeting on Monday with veterans in the Rio Grande Valley, Governor Greg Abbott, along with U.S. Veteran’s Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald and Texas Senator John Cornyn, announced decreasing wait times for veterans trying to see a doctor.

A 2014 government report showed veterans waited an average of 85 days to be seen by a doctor at the VA Texas Coastal Bend Center in Harlingen.

Governor Abbott, Senator Cornyn, and Secretary McDonald met with hundreds of veterans in South Texas to discuss ideas that would expand healthcare access in the Rio Grande Valley.

“The time is now when we can come together in the state, in the United States military, in the United States Congress and in the Obama administration when we can serve the men and women who have served us,” Abbott told the assembled veterans.

One of the ideas being discussed would be a partnership between the VA and the University of Texas-RGV’s planned medical school.  The school’s medical staff would provide the region's veterans an additional option when needing to be seen by a doctor. 

Jim Brennan with the Texas Coalition of Veterans Organizations says the Valley has one of the largest concentrations of veterans in the country, so the addition of UT’s South Texas medical school is a must for the region.

“The State of Texas has about 1.7 million veterans, the second largest veterans population in the country, and [it's] growing faster than any other states veteran’s population.... there is a substantial veteran population in the Valley,” Brennan said.

Since the federal government tweaked the online system used to set doctor’s appointments, 96 percent of all veterans in the Valley were able to be seen by a doctor within 14-days.