Low Number of Veterans Turn Out for Nashville Town Hall Meeting

Marine Corps veteran Rebecca Johnston is talking after the meeting with Jan Dew about her specific questions at the meeting. Credit: Emily West.

Marine Corps veteran Rebecca Johnston is talking after the meeting with Jan Dew about her specific questions at the meeting. Credit: Emily West.

Only a handful of veterans turned out to a town hall meeting in Nashville Friday to discuss their VA benefits, and very few of them asked questions.

The VA has been under fire for health care wait times and pending claims. Nashville was one of the worst with its backlog hitting its peak in March  2013 with 611,000 cases. Since then, the Nashville VA has reduced that number to 264,000.

Rebecca Johnston made the trek from Maury County to the federal courthouse in downtown to ask why the home health benefits she got in California are drastically different here in Tennessee.

Johnston, who served 20 years in the Marine Corps, uses a walker and sat by her service dog Tala. Even though she asked several questions, she felt the answers were lacking.

“I’m an advocate for veterans because I feel that even though a lot of the words sounded were nice,” Johnston says. “The reality of some of the veterans I’m familiar with is absolute misery.”

Because the town hall meeting was about benefits and not medical care, VA officials had asked veterans not to bring up specific health care issues.

Instead, a town hall meeting Sept. 22 will be devoted to medical care. It will be led by Tennessee Valley VA director, Juan Morales, at the VA’s center on Vanderbilt University’s campus.

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