Veterans Affairs audit: New Jersey fares better, but there's room to improve

A recent audit showed dozens of veterans are waiting to be treated in New Jersey's Veterans Affairs hospitals, and although that number is low compared to other states, veterans say there is work to be done. (6/9/14)

EDISON - A recent audit showed dozens of veterans are waiting to be treated in New Jersey's Veterans Affairs hospitals, and although that number is low compared to other states, veterans say there is work to be done.

Stephen Macko is the commander of the American Legion Father and Son Post 435 in Edison. He and his men are happy with the VA health care in New Jersey, but they have much different feelings about the overall state of the system.

"The government dropped the ball and they're not taking care of the people that went out there and did what they asked them to do," Macko says.

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The audit was released Monday after the Department of Veterans' Affairs scrutinized facilities across the U.S.

In New Jersey, 67 veterans have been waiting up to three months for their first appointment. In Philadelphia, more than 1,000 are on hold.

VA officials say they have put utmost importance on reducing the wait.

"Sometimes we have to hire new staff, if there's a demand that's going up over time," says New Jersey VA Chief of Staff Steven Lieberman. "And other times we offer them the same appointment with a specialist at another location."

The audit says the VA hospital in Lyons may need to review wait times, but veterans are getting appointments within 30 days.

New Jersey VA Medical Center Director Kenneth Mizrach says he knows there is room for improvement. "These veterans fought for this right to get health care and we're going to make sure we're here for them," he says.

More than 57,000 veterans nationwide are still waiting to be seen by a doctor at a VA hospital.

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