Wichita man says VA change can’t happen soon enough

WICHITA, Kansas – With the rhetoric heating up over VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign, one Wichita man says he wants to see some changes as soon as possible.

“As of now, it’s been ten months,” says Army Veteran Rex Pennick of Wichita. “They tell me it’s going to be another seven months before I can add her.”

Rex got married last July. He’s been trying to get his wife benefits, but says he has not had any luck.

Rex served in Iraq and came home back in 2004. He’s been getting care at a Texas hospital but is now back home living in Wichita.

“I do get good care, when I get care,” explains Rex. “But, I lost my therapist. She moved on. I was told it could be some time before someone new is assigned.”

Rex believes the staff could be bolstered, and he wonders if there should be changes at the top of the VA system.

“Yes, I think lawmakers should make some changes,” explains Rex. ” They told me if I was behind on my bills they could fast track my case. And, ah, and I told them I’m not going to get behind on my bills so you guys can work quicker. And my bill collectors don’t take IOU’s. I think it’s time for some new blood. The system has been broke for a long time.”

The Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center offered a written statement, saying they do provide quality care.

“For two years in a row, the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center has been recognized nationally as a top performing hospital in the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Joint Commission recently rated the Dole VA as one of the best VA medical centers in the country. We strive to provide world-class care to our nation’s heroes.”

Still, Rex says he believes the Dole VA Medical Center could use more staff.

“They get rude with you. Like, they’re doing you a favor,” claims Rex. “I don’t think they have enough staff for the amount of veterans that they have to take care of and I think they feel the stress, the staff does. And, so, they take it out on the veterans.”

Rex reiterated he does get good care at the Dole VA Medical Center. But, he says, he’s waited too long in some cases to get care.

“I shouldn’t have to go to the ER to try and talk to a therapist,” says Rex. “I should be able to call and make an appointment. It’s been a month. and I do have some post (traumatic) stress that I deal with every day. I will be watching closely to see if the leadership at the top changes.”

If you know someone who is suffering from PTSD and needs help, see the following numbers:

National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Sedgwick County Comcare: 316-660-7500

Dole VA Center, Wichita: 316-685-2221

O’Neil VA Center, Topeka:  785-350-3111

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