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Meeting Planned for Tomorrow to Discuss Veterans’ Care

White River Junction — Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who leads the Committee on Veterans Affairs, will host a town hall-style meeting at the White River Junction VA Medical Center tomorrow .

Sanders will discuss topics including Green Mountain State veterans’ access to health care and forthcoming outreach attempts at the 10 a.m. meeting, which will include other officials such as Deborah Amdur, director of the White River Junction VA . The event is free and open to the public.

Sanders said yesterday in a phone interview, though, that the primary discussion will be about local and national efforts to improve outreach and help veterans understand what sorts of benefits they’re entitled to.

“If people choose not to use VA services or take benefits, that’s fine, but they should know what’s available to them,” he said.

Part of Sanders’ plan for additional outreach are the meetings themselves, plus easier-to-navigate websites for veterans. After the VA meeting in White River Junction, Sanders said he will head down to VA centers in Brattleboro, Vt., tomorrow afternoon and then Bennington, Vt. in the evening.

The White River Junction portion of the day will begin with a brunch at 9:30 a.m. The meeting itself will convene at 10 a.m., and last for an hour and a half.

Other topics Sanders plans to discuss include post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans as well as the issue of homeless veterans, of which he said there are currently about 60,000 nationally.

There’s also the matter of the VA’s national effort to digitize its claims filing system, which it first enacted in 2009, and Sanders said he hopes it will be complete by 2015. When that happens, he said, all claims filed by veterans would be acted upon in about four months. Now, in extreme cases, some claims can take several years to be processed.

“You’ve got a pretty good system with a pretty good staff, and I think veterans are pretty happy with the quality of care they receive,” Sanders said. “But we can always improve it.”

Jon Wolper can be reached at jwolper@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.