VA Secretary Wilkie visits Atlanta

(Source: WGCL)

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- The U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs made his second visit to metro Atlanta Friday. Secretary Robert Wilkie held a news conference where he discussed progress being made to better serve local veterans.

“This VA is looking to the future, to reach veterans where they are and take the pressure off of them and their families,” said Secretary Wilkie who was appointed to the position in 2018. The head of the VA says the state of Georgia has the fastest growing veteran population, and as a result it’s important the Atlanta VA gets things right.

So far he says they’re on the right path, touting the progress they have made in providing timely and adequate care to veterans, especially during the pandemic.

“In a normal month Atlanta VA conducts 950 telehealth appointments, during the pandemic that number has gone to 20,000. That means we’re reaching veterans where they live. Particularly in rural Georgia," said Wilkie.

According to Wilkie there's an increased demand for telehealth care as an influx of veterans move to the state.

“Georgia is the fastest growing state when it comes to veterans and that is why we have to get the VA right here in Atlanta, and I think we’re on a very good trajectory for that,” added Wilkie.

But the Atlanta VA has been under scrutiny for not providing timely care. A VA office of Inspector General Report released in July documented massive delays for veterans trying to see a doctor. According to the report, there was inconsistent scheduling, inconsistent oversight and leadership, and a lack of staff. In July there was also about 21,000 open consult cases citing a veteran waiting to see a doctor.

CBS46 asked Wilkie about those concerns. He responded by saying, “The I.G. again is reporting on something that happened two years ago, before the changes took place here. They’re on their way and we see veterans coming to this facility in record numbers.”

We also asked Secretary Wilkie about a current investigation into upper management at the Atlanta VA accusing them of possibly falsifying documents.

He declined to comment on the issue.

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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