We’ve all, at one time or another, gotten frustrated with automated voice systems, when we are just so desperate to get a real human being on the phone. For countless veterans who deal with these phone systems each day, when trying to make appointments at VA-run hospitals, this is certainly nothing new.
Army veteran Dennis Magnasco –who served in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012– wanted to demonstrate how frustrating it is just to make a simple appointment with the VA. To highlight the problem that thousands of vets have – Magnasco recorded himself on one of these infinite loops.
“I injured my wrist and wanted to schedule an x-ray,” Magnasco said. “[But] I was continually rerouted back to the start.”
When Congressman Seth Moulton posted the video to his Facebook feed on Feb. 10, it went viral. Moulton, who represents Massachusetts’ Sixth District, is a Marine Corps veteran who served four tours in Iraq, from 2003-2008. He says the VA’s support system is “less than adequate” for himself as well as for his district’s 45,000 veterans.
Vets all over the country have been complaining, for a long time now, about excessive wait times at the V.A. CNN reported in 2014, that at least 40 veterans had died while on a VA wait list in Arizona. The NY Times reported, one year later, that things were only getting worse– that the number of veterans on waiting lists of one month or more, was only getting higher.
Now, Rep. Moulton is using Magnasco’s video to promote legislation that he introduced in early January. The Faster Care for Veterans Act would “pilot using technology to make it easier for vets to get appointments,” according to Vocativ. Moulton is hoping vets will soon be able to utilize advanced technology and mobile phone apps to bypass the frustrating and “inefficient phone system,” while also letting them monitor their appointments more effectively.
Magnasco and Moulton both agree that the issue here is not quality of care, but simply a matter of access. “Many veterans have smartphones, and it’s much more convenient to schedule an appointment on an app rather than wait for an operator,” Moulton said. To read more about his bill, HR 4352, go to congress.gov.
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