Pasco/Pinellas GOP Congressman Gus Bilirakis hosted a town hall meeting in Port Richey on Thursday, inviting Pinellas County veterans to have a "candid conversation" about their issues with their local VA offices.
Pinellas Congressman David Jolly announced last week that he will hold a similar event on June 17. And a staffer for CD15 Congressman Dennis Ross informs CL that he too, will host a similar event sometime in July.
So what about Kathy Castor?
Glad you asked. The Tampa-based Democrat says she will hold a congressional "one-on-one" session with constituents at the Lee Davis Neighborhood Service Center at 10 a.m. on Friday at 3402 N. 22nd Street, Tampa. The Congresswoman says that her office sent out more than 10,000 robo-calls on Wednesday inviting citizens to attend, "especially if they have veterans' and Medicare issues."
The Congresswoman adds, "however, every day is Veterans Day in my office. We work every day to ensure that veterans receive the benefits they have earned. One area of particular concern is the unconscionable wait times for a benefits determination and appeal. I have been pressing VA on this and will continue to do so."
Castor says she has referred "serious cases" regarding waiting lists for veterans locally to the Office of the VA Inspector General, and she is working to boost the number of doctors, nurses and therapists in the VA system to help address unacceptable time lags.
"I have referred serious cases to the Office of VA Inspector General. For the most critically wounded soldiers, Tampa Bay is home to the most modern polytrauma hospital and rehabilitation center in the country at the Haley VA," she wrote in an email to CL. "The medical professionals and rehab center are top-notch. This state-of-the-art care facility was born out of scandal after the Washington Post series on Walter Reed in 2007. Congress passed the Wounded Warriors Assistance Act and lifted the VA budget to historic heights. Unfortunately, the grinding toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last 13 years — the longest period at war in America’s history — combined with an aging baby boomer population is reflected in the challenges in the VA system. All Americans have a responsibility to ensure veterans receive the care they need and we must redouble our efforts to do so.”