Local News

Durham VA Medical Center 'stands ready' for veterans in need

Posted June 21, 2016 9:18 p.m. EDT
Updated June 21, 2016 10:13 p.m. EDT

— The Durham VA Medical Center wants direct feedback from the veterans it serves and Tuesday night veterans, their families and other beneficiaries were given the opportunity to voice concerns and get access to various resources.

Four times a year, veterans get an opportunity to have their voices heard and perhaps leave with more information, contacts and resources than what they came with.

“We have mental health providers here so they can answer questions, in addition to primary care,” said Medical Center Director DeAnne Seekins.

Seekins said more than 30 percent of the staff at the Durham VA Medical Center are veterans themselves, serving fellow veterans like Phyllis Mills.

“I came to talk to the Veterans Administration people to find out what different programs and stuff they have,” Mills said. “We need our medical, we need benefits, we need our compensation. I fight for you, you need to fight for me.”

Mills is among approximately 70,000 veterans across 27 counties who are receiving care from the Durham VA Health Care System.

In 2014, the Durham Medical Center was audited after two employees were placed on administrative leave for allegedly falsifying appointment records. Across the country, VA offices were investigated for similar incidents. Still, Seekins assures they’re dedicated to quality service.

“I don’t want a veteran who may be in crisis to not pick up the phone and call us because they’ve heard something and they feel that they can’t trust us,” she said.

Tuesday night, bridges were built as veterans took as much time as needed speaking one on one with providers.

“I have been privileged to serve the VA for 32 years and what I want the veterans to know is we’re here and we stand ready for them,” Seekins said.

The national VA goal is to complete all appointments within 30 days. The average wait time in Durham is about six days for primary care and nine days for specialty care.