Tester hears concerns about VA from Montana veterans

Senator: ‘Montana veterans know best how to improve care at VA’

(ANACONDA, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester today kicked off his latest veterans listening session tour in Anaconda to hear what Montana veterans like and don’t like about the care and benefits they receive at the VA.

Tester’s listening session tour is part of a series of steps he is taking to address access to care issues at the VA. He wants Montana veterans to have a say as Congress debates how best to reduce wait times at VA facilities nationwide.

Tester was joined today by former American Legion National Vice Commander and Anaconda native John Pelligrini. They heard from several area veterans who shared individual stories about VA healthcare and benefits.

“It’s unacceptable if even one veteran isn’t getting the care they need, or if they’re told to wait a month and a half to see a doctor,” said Tester, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Veterans make tremendous sacrifices and as more and more come home we need to be ready to care for them – as well as the veterans who are already home.”

“The real problem with the VA has been leadership, but also the funding just hasn’t been there,” said Anaconda veteran Bill Willing. “We have to ramp it up and also recruit better.”

Tester sponsored several measures to address access to care issues at the VA by reducing wait times, increasing accountability among VA officials, and allowing the VA to hire more medical providers. One of those measures passed the Senate this week by a 93-3 vote.

Tester plans to hold more listening sessions with Montana veterans in the weeks ahead.