Amongst the recent Department of Veterans Affairs scandal, the leading blind veteran’s organization said Friday that so far they have received no complaints of members being left off waiting list at hospitals, but vowed to continue to be on the lookout.
“So far, we have heard nothing from our members regarding this issue,” said Glenn Minney, director of government relations for the Blinded Veterans Association. “That certainly doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.”
BVA has over 75,000 members, but there are more blind veterans than that. There are also a significant amount of deaf or hard of hearing veterans as well, making it likely that a decent amount of these veterans have been affected in some way by the scandal.
Even though he hasn’t heard any member being directly connected to the recent scandal, Minney said he is disappointed by the resignation of Eric Shinseki, Secretary of the V.A. Minney believes that Shinseki’s resignation is not fair because the former V.A. Secretary wasn’t aware of the secret waiting list.
“He was kept in the dark,” Minney, who worked for the V.A. said. “He was not directly involved and now that the situation has been brought to light, everyone in the media and public wanted him out.”
BVA isn’t immune to having to deal with scandals with the V.A. Just last month, representatives from the organization brought pressure to the head of the veterans blind rehabilitation center in Waco Texas, after it was found that he was denying entry to the facility to some patients. He resigned that same day. BVA said they will continue to pay close attention to all 13 of the blind rehab centers around the country.
“As long as I am in this position, I will continue to focus on this issue,” said Minney, who is blind and served in Iraq.
BVA is also spending a lot of time on Capitol Hill, knocking on doors of Congressmen and attending hearings. Minney said he is there almost every day of the week.
The organization is pushing for the passage of two simultaneous bills in congress that hope to do the same thing. H.R. 1284 and S.633 both seek to allow the V.A. to pay for travel for blind veterans to and from the rehabilitation centers no matter how they became blind. Currently, the V.A. will only pay for travel if the blindness was caused as a direct result of combat activity. Both bills have been introduced and are currently in their respective committee.
“The key is to keep knocking on doors and advocating,” Minney said. “It’s important that Congress knows about the issues that affect blind veterans. That’s why I am often there.”
Have you, as a blind or deaf person been affected by the Scandal? Are there any issues with the V.A. that you have had to deal with? Do any of you know a blind or deaf veteran that isn’t receiving proper treatment by the V.Aa?