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Overall Experience Positive Among Southwest Missouri Veterans, Report Shows

Scott Harvey
In this file photo, Sen. Claire McCaskill speaks to reporters during a past visit to Springfield's Transportation Management

Veterans in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas are generally satisfied with the quality of service at Veterans Administration (VA) medical facilities. That’s according results of a survey released Tuesday by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri).

McCaskill announced the results during a news conference at the American Legion Post 639 in Springfield.

The survey received nearly 1,000 total responses covering all of Missouri and some neighboring regions. 166 of those responses came from local veterans, and all but 34 said they did not have a problem scheduling appointments with VA.

Starting in 2010, the Veterans’ Customer Satisfaction Program was designed to get honest and confidential feedback about the quality of service at VA medical facilities. In her report, McCaskill’s main recommendation is to continue hiring qualified new staff and fill vacancies, notably in specialty areas and at the outpatient clinics. She says this will reduce scheduling delays and changes.

“Hearing directly from veterans has always been the best way for me to find out if they’re receiving the quality service they’ve earned,” said McCaskill in a statement. “I’m glad to have veterans from southwest Missouri now offering me this input. These surveys continue to be a useful snapshot into the quality of service Missouri veterans are getting, and offer a unique opportunity for folks to give direct, meaningful feedback—in order to better hold the VA accountable for providing the highest quality experience for our veterans.”

Just over 90 percent of veterans strongly or mostly satisfied with facility cleanliness. High ratings were also given to communications, ease of access and experience with doctors and nurses. Overall experience earned just 73.5 percent satisfaction, which McCaskill says can be improved with more efficient services.

“When I first proposed this “secret shopper” program, I told you that I would not be happy until Missouri’s veterans are happy. I meant it then, and I mean it now,” McCaskill said in her summary report. “Looking ahead, it is important that we keep the momentum going that we have established over the last few years with the robust participation among our veterans.”

View full survey results for the Veterans’ Customer Satisfaction Survey here.

McCaskill also used Tuesday’s news conference to discuss the Arla Harrell Act, a bill she filed on Memorial Day. It would require federal agencies to reconsider disability claims denied to veterans exposed to secret mustard gas testing. It was announced alongside a report detailing decades of mistreatment and bureaucratic indifference by the U.S. government toward servicemen during World War II.

The Arla Harrell Act is named after one of the last surviving Missourians to be subjected to this testing.

“The way these servicemen have been treated for the last seven decades takes my breath away,” said McCaskill. “It’s critical that we take immediate action to help the veterans whose government turned its back on them—and we need to acknowledge the tragic sacrifice they’ve made for their country, and our government’s failure to care for them.”