Pekin-area military veterans will get their second opportunity in a month to air their questions and issues about Veterans Administration health care to attentive ears.
Their U.S. congresswoman heard them in mid-October. In two weeks, they’ll meet with VA health officials who provide many of their services.
That direct connection will come Nov. 17 in a Veterans Town Hall meeting with the officials from the VA Illiana Health Care System clinic in Danville.
It will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1232, located at 15655 VFW Road.
“We’ll give the veterans a short presentation about changes in VA care and then open (the meeting) up to questions from the audience,” Danville clinic Public Affairs Officer Todd Oliver said Tuesday.
Clinic officials, including its director, chief of staff and chief of nursing, can expect a solid turnout of vets voicing a variety of concerns and complaints. That’s what greeted U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, whose 17th Congressional District includes western Tazewell County, when she met with about two dozen vets in Pekin on Oct. 18.
That group, many of whom served during the Vietnam War, told Bustos of past problems dealing with the VA’s bureaucracy and current issues with their requests to have their own doctors provide VA-funded services.
“A lot of veterans get fed up with the VA system and drop out,” local Vietnam veteran Orel Peal told Bustos.
A proponent of veterans’ issues over her two terms in office, Bustos promised to continue pushing for VA care reforms and stay attentive to the issues the vets raised.
The Danville clinic’s decision to “reach out of our comfort zone” and conduct the Pekin town hall, however, was unrelated to Bustos’ visit, Oliver said.
“We made the decision to come to Pekin before” Bustos made her visit, he said. “But (the visit) reinforces that we made the right decision.”
While the Bob Michel VA Clinic in Peoria serves many Pekin-area vets, others must travel to the Danville clinic two hours away for specialized care. A new VA clinic in McLean County will fill some of that gap when it opens in about two years.
“We’re hoping for a good turnout” at the Nov. 17 forum, Oliver said.
Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin.com