Medical care for veterans topic of discussion

FROM STAFF REPORTS

   When legislators return to Nashville on Monday, several upstate lawmakers plan to hold discussions on how to reduce the wait time for veterans to receive primary medical care at Mountain Home Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center in Johnson City.
   In an article in Friday's edition of the Star, it was reported that veterans are being denied primary health care services at the VA due to lack of funding.
   State Sen. Rusty Crowe, chairman of the Joint Select Committee on Veterans Affairs, said he and State Rep. Ralph Cole of Elizabethton plan to meet with Gen. Wendell Gilbert, Tennessee Commissioner of Veterans Affairs and director of Homeland Security, to discuss options and approaches for veterans seeking medical care at the VA.
   "I am very concerned and disturbed about these reports. I believe the problem must be at the Washington, D.C level. I look forward to discussing this matter with Cong. Bill Jenkins and Senators Fred Thompson and Bill Frist."
   Sen. Crowe indicated that Dr. Carl Gerber, head of the VA in Johnson City, had been very accommodating in helping veterans in the past.
   "I have always felt that when our veterans put their lives on the line for us, they were under the impression that medical care was a part of that contract for life," Sen. Crowe added.