Sen. Roger Wicker requests improvement plan for Mississippi's VA medical centers

Sen. Roger Wicker requests improvement plan for Mississippi's VA medical centers
G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson, MS

MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) is asking the Veterans Affairs Secretary for agency's help to improve Mississippi's two VA medical centers.

A press release said that Sen. Wicker sent a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin for a plan to improve the VA medical centers in Jackson and Biloxi after a recent report gave the two facilities low performance marks.

"I was extremely disappointed to learn that our state's two VA medical centers again received low ratings," Wicker said.

The Veterans Administration's  2017 Hospital Star Rating gave the G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson two stars out of five.  The Gulf Coast VA Medical Center in Biloxi received one star.

"I wrote the VA Secretary David Shullkin to ask for his prompt action to improve the Jackson and Biloxi hospitals, because Mississippi veterans deserve better than a two star and a one star medical center," Wicker said in the video uploaded to Youtube Thursday.

Ted Tibbett, Chairman of the Hattieburg Veterans Committee, said there are a number of issues veterans face back home.

"From day one, most veterans are promised things that have never been delivered to them and part of that is medical treatment," Tibbett said.

Tibbett said some of the complaints he's heard from veterans who go to the medical center in Jackson include long wait times and service availability.

"I think the personnel do the best they can, they are just under staffed and under facility," Tibbett said.

The Hattiesburg Veterans Committee has a van that transports local veterans to the facility in Jackson twice a week.  The van leaves the VFW Post 3036 on Ronie Street in Hattiesburg at 7 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, returning in the afternoons.  Tibbett said there are close to 20 veterans a trip, based on appointments.

"The people that ride with us, if they had their own car, their own capabilities, they would get up there themselves," Tibbett said.  "There's far more than the 16 or 18 a week that we serve that go to Jackson."

Wicker concluded his letter and recorded message by inviting Secretary Shulkin to join him in visiting with veterans during a site visit to Mississippi in the near future.

"I look forward to Secretary Shulkin's prompt response and I hope he will visit our state soon to ensure that these concerns receive the attention that our state's nearly 200,000 veterans deserve," Wicker said.