Vets have mixed reactions on the VA scandal


(CNN) – As the nation remembers those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country, many are pushing for change at the Department of Veterans Affairs amid allegations of widespread mismanagement of how veterans receive medical care.

CNN talked to two veterans who have had different experiences with the VA.

33-year-old Brian Mast lost his legs to an IED in Afghanistan in 2010.

“It happened in a flash. As quick as you turn on the lights in your home, that’s as quick as it happened.”

Like so many wounded soldiers he ended up at Walter Reed, the military’s hospital for those on active duty. By the time he left, 18 months later, Mast was walking on new prosthetics. Just two months ago, he started running.

Now that he’s retired, he’s entitled to care from the VA health system, but chooses not to use it.

“The VA facility that I go to, there’s basically one day a month to go and get prosthetics care. For somebody that works, to have to go on a Thursday, one day a month and that’s the only day that you can get this, that’s a very inconvenient thing to do.”

Eddie Miller is also a veteran. Unlike Brian Mast, he says he depends on the VA.

“I did Vietnam. I did three tours in Germany, one in Korea, about 3 or 4 tours stateside.”

Since retiring from the Army in 1992, Miller has struggled with addiction and homelessness.

“As far as I’m concerned, everything I’ve gotten from the VA, well, I’ve gotten everything from them that I’ve needed… to the point even with my addiction, my drug problem.”

Today, he’s working to turn his life around. He credits the VA system for helping him get better.

“You can see the doctor when you need to?”

“I see him every month. He has hundreds of patients. I can see him, and if it’s an emergency, I can see either him or the psychiatrist on call.”

Still some veterans say they have not had the same experience as Miller. Sources tell CNN at least 40 vets died while waiting to see a doctor with the Phoenix Veterans Affairs health care system. At least 26 VA facilities are now being investigated by the VA’s Inspector General over accusations regarding delays in care.

“Makes you angry?”

“Angry beyond words.”

Mast says he has heard the reports and is calling for change – now.

“To think that on Memorial Day I’m going to have to try to remember veterans that were lost to us because they didn’t receive care, because they were put on some false waiting list at a Veterans Affairs facility – that’s the most dishonorable thing that I can think about.”

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