VA works to restore veteran and public trust

SUN Columnist

My heartfelt thanks to all veterans who participated in the Fourth of July parade, especially the Vets4Vets and American Legion veterans for the honor guard and vehicles. A special day for all veterans; thank you for your service.

VA releases data

On July 2, Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson met with the leadership of 26 military and veterans service organizations (MSOs and VSOs) to reaffirm his commitment to work together to address the unacceptable, systemic problems in accessing Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare.

During the meeting, he updated the organizations’ representatives on VA’s work with the Office of Special Counsel to restore veterans’ trust in the system and on VA’s progress in reaching out to get veterans into clinics and off of waiting lists. He told MSO and VSO leaders that he looks forward to working with them to better serve veterans nationwide, in communities where they live. He also shared that he has directed all VA medical center leadership to hold monthly meetings with VSOs and community partners.

On July 3, the VA released its bi-monthly data update showing progress on VA efforts to accelerate access to quality health care for veterans who have been waiting for appointments.

Gibson announced that VA outreach has now extended to nearly 140,000 veterans across the country to get them off of wait lists and into clinics for medical appointments. VA also released the latest updated, facility-level patient access data.

“In many communities across the country, veterans wait too long for the high quality care they’ve earned and deserve,” said Gibson. “As of today, we’ve reached out to nearly 140,000 veterans to get them off wait lists and into clinics, and there is more work to be done. As we continue to address systemic challenges in accessing care, these regular data updates enhance transparency and provide the most immediate information to veterans and the public on improvements to veterans’ access to quality health care. We are fully committed to fixing the problems we face in order to better serve veterans. We must restore the public’s trust in VA, but more importantly, we must restore the trust of our veterans who depend on us for care.”

The office of Archuleta County Veterans Service Officer provides assistance to qualified military veterans and their families, or a veteran’s survivors, in applying to and in obtaining U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Program assistance, benefits and claims. This assistance is provided within the guidelines, policies and procedures established by the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is a mandated program of the State of Colorado.

Further information 

For further information on VA benefits, call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.

The best way to contact me is to set up an appointment at home or in the office so I can schedule a specific time in order to answer and assist each veteran in Archuleta County.

I will be out of the office on the following days for regularly scheduled meetings:

• Vets4Vets: Tuesday mornings, 9 a.m.-noon.

• Arboles Community Center, first and third Thursdays. Back around 2 p.m.

• Pagosa Outreach Connection, 8:30-10 a.m. every Thursday.

• Home visits/Pine Ridge outreach, second and fourth Thursdays, back at 2 p.m.

The office number is 264-4013, fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590 and email is The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for completing applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to, and a copy for filing in the Archuleta County VSO office. If the office is closed, I am out assisting veterans; leave me a message and phone number to contact you.

Veterans’ groups

The following veterans’ groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

• American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

• American Legion Post 108 Ladies Auxiliary: second Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

• Veterans for Veterans: every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Quality Resort.

• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: every other Monday at 6 p.m., St. Patrick’s Episcopal Parish Hall, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. Contact Charlotte: 731-1025.

• Point Man Ministries’ Breakfast for Veterans: 8:30 a.m. each Tuesday at Buffalo Inn, 164 N. Pagosa Blvd. Contact Vincent: 731-2769,

Important numbers

• 799-VETS,

• Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.

• Farmington VA Center: (505) 327-9684.

• The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online or text 838255.

This story was posted on July 10, 2014.