According to the Military Times, 505,000 veterans have been waiting over a month in order to see a doctor. While Congress set a limit to no more than a 30 day wait period for veterans in 2014, many have waited a month, some almost two months, in order to receive appointments from doctors at the Veterans Affairs Department.
And while those who have waited for more than a month are free to reach out to private physicians through a special program known as the Veterans Choice program, many have criticized this as ineffective. Claims that appointments were still hard to come by and doctors who didn't receive payment have given the program a reputation, one that PBS NewsHour attributes to a great deal of bureaucratic red tape that limits doctors who specialize in a certain area.
It's something that Jeanne Goldy-Sanitate addressed in her letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, noting that the program only added another hoop veterans had to jump through in order to receive proper care.
"Instead of giving the veteran a choice, it has limited the veteran, as providers are not willing to join due to the mismanagement," wrote Goldy.
And while the new system has had its successes, what needs to be looked at is the bigger picture. After all, 505,000 veterans who can't see a doctor is 505,000 too many. Mike Hayward, who advocates for veterans in Colorado, certainly agrees with this sentiment.
"I think it's gonna take something major to change the VA," said Hayward.