NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP/WCIV) - South Carolina U.S. Sen. Tim Scott is traveling across the state to hear veterans' concerns about VA health care.
About 50 veterans turned out in North Charleston on Friday morning to meet privately with staffers from Scott's office. Their stories will be forwarded to the VA to help improve the system or to a congressional committee investigating the worst cases.
Scott says it's hard to hear some of the tales. He says two people said they had lost their veteran husbands in recent months because of delayed care.
Scott says he's hearing over and over that it's hard for vets to get appointments, then when they do those appointments are often rescheduled.
Juliana Moton is one of many wives who has taken on the burden of finding proper care for her veteran husband.
"You can't tell me that he has a problem and then see him whenever. I shouldn't have to demand appointments to be timely for him. He was a Vietnam vet. He, in turn, has dysentery; he has eye problems, hearing problems all because of the war," said Moton.
She says she came to the listening session to talk. She wanted the ear of Scott, hoping he'll take her message to Washington.
"The follow up appointments are too long. You don't tell someone you have a lesion on their liver and then maybe you want to do a follow up three months later. That's unacceptable," said Moton.
Scott says his office receives thousands of requests and complaints from veterans. Many need benefits and immediate health care.
"The only way for us to serve the vets at the highest level possible is to hear specifically from them," said Scott. "We have to find a way to inform the VA about what's actually happening. Number two, we should investigate those claims and concerns that are either costing lives or reducing the quality of life or increasing the likelihood vets will need service somewhere else."
Edward Burns is the Director of Dorchester County Veterans Affairs. He says these open sessions are the only way veterans can really be heard.
"They need help. The system is so large and so beaurocratic, which is just because of the size of it, that often things fall through the cracks," said Burns.
The senator held similar sessions Friday in Greenville and Lexington.