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Military & Veterans' Issues

Rep. Doggett Defends Veterans Choice Act

Carson Frame / TPR News
Congressman Lloyd Doggett addresses the Veterans Summit at San Antonio College

At a Veterans Summit at San Antonio College on Saturday, Congressman Lloyd Doggett fielded questions about staffing problems, long wait times, and claims backlogs at the Veterans Administration.

In his remarks to a room full of vets and their families, U.S. Representative Doggett shared an update about the Choice Act. It’s a law that allows veterans to seek private or community healthcare if they can’t get a timely appointment with the VA, or if they live more than 40 miles away from a VA facility.

The Veterans Choice Program was created in 2014. It was set to expire in August, but Congress voted to extend it for another six months.

Some critics say that the Choice Program is a step toward privatizing the VA. Doggett argued against that claim.

“I believe that supporting and strengthening that system and providing the resources to get the care that we need and the specialists that we need there is the way to look at it," he said. "I personally am very opposed to those who would just privatize the entire Veterans Administration system. I think it’s very important to preserve it.”

He went on to acknowledge systemic problems with the VA system.

“At the same time, if there’s a service needed and there’s an indefinite wait, it’s important to have the Choice Act option.”

Doggett says that the Choice Act is especially valuable for vets who live far from VA medical facilities like Audie Murphy Hospital and the Frank Tejeda Outpatient Clinic.