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Dozens of veterans attend Mountain Home VA's town hall

Jonathan Roberts • Aug 9, 2019 at 12:00 AM

As a chapter service officer for Washington County’s Disabled American Veterans chapter, Mark Hutchens knows how important it is to take care of America’s veterans.

That led him to the Mountain Home VA Medical Center Thursday to attend a Veterans Town Hall.

Thursday’s town hall gave dozens of veterans an opportunity to ask questions about upgrades at the Mountain Home VA, benefits and new legislation, among other things, and Hutchens was doing his best to take in all the information and feedback he could to help his fellow veterans.

“Any time the VA puts on something like this, I want to be at it, I want to listen and I want to hear what they got to say because there’s two sides to every story,” said Hutchens. “The only way you’re going to find out really what’s going on, is you have to attend something like this.

“It’s an informational thing, which helps me better serve my brothers and sisters,” he continued.

Attendees lobbed dozens of questions at MHVA Director Dean Borsos, Chief of Staff David Hecht and Associate Director Colleen Noe about everything from handicap parking on the Mountain Home campus to routine healthcare questions and even a question about billing if a VA patient has to be airlifted to a hospital for treatment.

“I think this is one of the most important communication venues we have,” Noe said of the quarterly town halls. “It allows us to be face-to-face with our patients.”

Noe pointed to the 2014 scandal in which a Veterans Affairs Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, was accused of underreporting how long it took veterans to receive healthcare, prompting Congress and the White House to take steps to reform the entire department.

“Even though those issues were not here at Mountain Home, there was a lot of information in the media about the VA and it was important for us to clear that up and be transparent with our patients about our access and the quality of care we provide,” Noe said.

Hutchens, meanwhile, had no qualms about Thursday’s town hall, and felt each question was answered adequately.

“What they’re saying here and the information that’s gathered here by the veterans and the information I've picked up just listening will help me help other veterans who need help,” he said, calling the town halls “very important.”

“One person can’t maintain a constant knowledge of (things important to veterans), so things like this help,” he continued. “There’s more that can be done, but there’s been a lot of good progress.”

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