Veterans pack VA town hall in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT)–In Jacksonville, veterans had a chance to be heard by an agency they depend on for care. A town hall meeting took place on Wednesday at the Veterans Affairs clinic. Attendees shared concerns about the VA and how they’re treated.

A good first step, that’s how some of the veterans in attendance at the VA town hall put it. But they say they still want action and not just talk.

The meeting was an open forum where VA officials could hear directly from veterans, their families and the public.

It’s supposed to be a means of rebuilding trust in the system. Dozens packed the lobby area of the Jacksonville V.A. clinic for the event.

Questions ranged from wait times at the VA to suicide prevention.

Leaders within the V.A. say these town halls are held quarterly and very beneficial when deciding on improvements to make in care.

“Getting to speak with someone face to face is a big plus,” Dr. Mark Shelhorse, interim director, said. “You can actually hear from their personal side what they’re concerned about, what they’re worried about, what they need to have done better and we learn a lot.”

The meeting lasted about an hour. Dr. Shelhorse fielded questions from members of the audience.

One of them was Bryan Malnburg. His concern is that the VA isn’t doing enough to help prevent veteran suicide.

“Recently one of my corporals, his mother called me and notified me about him trying to commit suicide in the kitchen,” he said. “I wanted to notify them that the suicide hotline is not really sufficient enough to try to help out our veterans.”

Veteran affairs leaders said they would address every issue that anyone raised at the meeting today. Malnburg hopes they will follow through.

“A lot of vets got together and they talked about a lot of great ideas,” Malnburg said. “I think it’s all about camaraderie in the end anyway. We got together, had a meeting and I think now things are going to get resolved.”

VA leaders said their top priority is addressing veteran suicide as well as getting more space for the Jacksonville clinic.


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