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CoastLine: VA Expands Medical Services for Veterans, but Demand Still Outpaces Resources

One photograph from the Invisible Wounds of War NC project recently on display at UNCW's Randall Library

Take a snapshot of how this country has taken care of its military veterans over the years, and there’s no denying we’ve come a long way.  In the 1970s, veterans came home from Viet Nam to a public that sometimes expressed outright hostility – never mind understanding the psychological wounds – such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.  Today, there’s a broader appreciation for military service members and their unique needs, but VA health care centers are still struggling to make health care available in a timely fashion. 

It was 2014 that CNN reported on delays in service that caused the deaths of at least 40 veterans.  That eventually led to a shakeup at the Department of Veterans Affairs, a criminal investigation, the resignation of top officials, and new federal funding for the VA. 

In southeastern North Carolina, the local VA has expanded services and facilities but is grappling with contaminated water at its Wilmington facility and long waits for appointments at all locations.  In response, local officials have held a series of Town Hall meetings to hear from veterans, answer questions, and provide support.  In this edition of CoastLine, we take a look at some of the issues and how the VA is working to address them. 


Segment 1:

Fred Roche, Administrator for the Wilmington VA Health Care Center and Brunswick and Jacksonville Community-based Outpatient Clinics

Segment 2:

Dr. Kyle Horton, former Primary Care Physician at Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, VA; veterans policy advocate, and contributor to The Invisible Wounds of War Project

Michael Ramos, United States Navy Veteran, 9 years, 10 months, and 28 days served, including a tour of duty in Iraq

Segment 3:

Dr. Kyle Horton

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.