Obama’s veteran health care overhaul for WMass

New legislation will hardly affect veterans in Western Massachusetts

President Barack Obama speaks in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 21, 2014, following his meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. The White House moved Wednesday to address the growing furor over allegations of misconduct at the Department of Veterans Affairs, summoning VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to an Oval Office meeting, hours before the House was scheduled to vote on a bill that would grant the secretary more authority to fire or demote senior executives.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – President Barack Obama signed a piece of legislation this week overhauling veterans medical care. But 22News found out how little it will affect Western Massachusetts Veterans.

The bill the president signed helps end long waits by ailing veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA medical center or clinic. Franklin county Veteran service official Tim Niejadlik told 22News most Western Massachusetts veterans live within 40 miles of a VA Medical center, such as the Hampshire county facility in Leeds. And very few he said, are inconvenienced by long delays in scheduling appointments.

“From what we’re hearing from our veterans, most of them are saying they’re happy with Leeds and with the out-patient facilities,” says Niejadlik. “They haven’t had the long waits you read about in Phoenix and out in the Midwest. The waits haven’t been that long.”

Niejadlik estimates that veterans comprise eight and a half percent of Western Massachusetts’ population.

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