Vets sound off on what's working and what's not at Durham VA

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ByJoel Brown via WTVD logo
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
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Veterans got a chance to sound off on Durham VA care.

DURHAM, NC (WTVD) -- At American Legion Post No. 7 on Monday night, everything was on the table; from how the Veterans Affairs handles veteran suicide concerns, to parking, to potential privatization. This was a chance to sound off to the top brass of Durham's veterans' hospital.

Just two weeks into his new job as health system director at the Durham VA, Paul Crews came prepared to get an earful from local veterans about what's working and what's not at the medical center.

Richard Bohnhoff didn't hold his tongue.

"You're gonna hear a whole bunch of lies here," Bohnhof told ABC11 as the town hall was set to get underway.

The 66-year old Vietnam vet - who served 20 years split between the Army and the Coast Guard - now says he works as a medical case manager for wounded warriors.

He expressed his frustration about what he says is the VA's unwillingness to allow vets to seek outside medical care.

"The VA has seven different programs to deal with non-VA care (The Choice Program), Bohnhoff explained. "Every one of those programs is designed to delay, deny until they die."

The town hall comes less than a week after President Donald Trump's fired VA Secretary David Shulkin - who since his dismissal has blasted Trump Administration plans to privatize veteran's health care.

Army veteran Carol Barker told Durham VA leaders: Don't even think about it.

"One of the things all of us want in place is a VA," Barker said. "Privatization is absolutely unacceptable, period."

It was a year ago in March, the I-Team reported on these troubling pictures from inside the Durham VA waiting room; Witnesses described older vets being mistreated and ignored. One picture showed a vet in pain, lying on the floor.

The hospital promised changes, and Monday night, one vet shared a much different experience from his last VA visit.

"I was out of there within 45 minutes," said Army vet Ronald Allen. "So I must say there have been some exceptional improvements in the care that is the Durham VA."

Hearing the good and the bad, the VA's newly-minted director walked away with a long to-do list - pledging to hit the ground running.