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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss) today said the best medical care possible must be the ultimate priority as the Department of Veterans Affairs investigates past issues and current care at the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson.

Earlier this month, Cochran and Wicker received a requested meeting with VA Under Secretary for Health Robert A. Petzel, M.D., regarding ongoing complaints from constituents about conditions at the VA Medical Center in Jackson. Petzel, at that meeting, expressed optimism about the recent appointment of Joe Battle as the permanent director of the Jackson VA, as well as recent corrective actions at the medical center to begin improving care and administration.

The Mississippi Senators were informed Friday of a VA Office of Special Counsel (OSC) investigation and have been in communications with the VA in Washington, D.C., and Mississippi regarding the Jackson facility. On Monday, the OSC sent a letter to President Obama and congressional Veterans Affairs committees detailing concerns raised by five whistleblowers at the same Jackson VA facility.

“I am deeply troubled by the accusations made about care and operations at the VA Medical Center in Jackson. In light of some of the concerns we’ve heard from Mississippians, it has become clear that there have been troublesome practices there. The bottom line is that whatever problems existed, or still exist, they need to be resolved so that veterans can have confidence in their health care system and receive the best care possible,” Cochran said. “We will continue working with Dr. Petzel and leadership at the Jackson VA to address these issues.”

“Many constituents have contacted me with concerns about the level of care at the VA facility in Jackson,” said Wicker. “For two years, I have encouraged VA executives in Washington take corrective action in Jackson. It is long past time for a thorough investigation into the lack of proper care. Our veterans deserve the best medical services available, and I intend to use every resource necessary to see that these problems are corrected.”

  • Dwaine Harrison

    I have been dealing with the Jackson VA medical center since Aug 1994. I have lived in Mississippi since I was in the 1st grade. I have been done wrong in Jackson since. I have had 4 surgeries at the jackson VA Medical Center. I enrolled in the Tusscaloosa VA medical Center Nov 2012. It is another world. I feel like hugging everyone that I have dealt with In Tusscaloo VA. No metal detectors or armed guards at every entrance. Anyone wanting to here my story I would love to tell it. Dwaine Harrison

  • Loyal Fed

    Dwaine: I’m glad you are pleased with the care you are receiving at Tuscaloosa. I have worked in several VAMCs over a 20 year period, including working at Jackson when the pilot program was first implemented to arm VA Police Officers. Why was Jackson one of the pilot sites? Because of attacks by drug-seeking veterans on 2 separate doctors. One was shot with a shotgun in the emergency room and killed (leaving behind a wife and if I recall corrected 5 or 6 young children). The other doctor had acid thrown in her face in the parking lot. She was disfigured for life and never able to return to work due to her injuries and resulting psychological damage. Our veterans deserve the best of care and I thank each of you for your service from the bottom of my heart. The reason the metal detectors and guards at the doors are at Jackson VAMC are because of these 2 incidents. And, I need to add that it is not because the employees wanted them there, but because the majority of the veterans came forward after these incidents and demanded they be placed there. The VA simply acted in response to veterans’ requests for this level of protection.

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