Military Veterans in the San Joaquin Valley and surrounding area know all about medical issues surrounding the Veterans Administration. They have been trying to expand the VA medical clinic in French Camp for years.
That’s why they closely followed the VA scandal that cost VA director Eric Shinseki his job.
“That really triggered a lot of emotion in the Veterans community,” said Commander Jesus Tzintzun of American Legion Karl Ross Post #16.
While vets acknowledge Shinseki’s combat credentials, they questioned his medical administration ability after it was discovered that veterans had to sometimes wait months for an appointment at VA facilities.
A group of vets was preparing for the annual appreciation barbecue at Post#16 when they learned of Shinseki’s resignation.
Questions over medical treatment of veterans at VA hospitals preceded Shinseki’s appointment by President Obama. But they say he had plenty of time to figure out what was wrong.
“If he were the CEO of a major corporation, he would have been fired a long time ago,” Tzintzun said.
American Legion district 11 commander Tino Adame, who represents San Joaquin County and three surrounding counties met Shinseki on several occasions. He was never satisfied with his response to his questions on veterans issues. But he says Shinseki should share the blame.
“I think he’s a scapegoat,” Adame said.
Adame’s concern is that lawmakers will move on to other issues when they should keep the focus on meical treatment by veterans.
Vietnam vet Lethel Jackson earned a Purple Heart as well as a Silver Star.
“We did the best we could for our country and when we come home and we can’t get no help from our country,” Jackson said.
The spotlight is now on who might be the next director of the VA and the hope that the scandal that has resonated with the general public will continue to focus attention on the treatment of vets.
“Better days should be on the way,” said Jackson.
Local veterans group say want to continue to put the pressure on because history has often proven them wro wrong.