Duckworth, Kelly hold veterans roundtable - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Duckworth, Kelly hold veterans roundtable

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MARION, Ill. -- Dozens of veterans from across southern Illinois attended a roundtable in Marion Tuesday afternoon. The event was held by congressional candidate Brendan Kelly and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth at the American Legion. 

One of the main concerns is care at the Marion VA Medical Center. Vietnam Veteran, Mike Gunter, says he doesn't like to talk too negatively about the facility, because he doesn't want to discourage young vets who need the care, but he would like to see some changes. 

"They don't even report back to the veteran after he or she had some type of testing done," Gunter explains, "They don't listen, and by they, I mean upper management." 

A Marion VA radiologist contacted Duckworth in July about patients previously diagnosed as healthy having cancers, bleeding ulcers, and other health conditions. The doctor also alleged the exams were rushed. 

"The VA headquarters recommended a settlement just to get the doctor to shut up," Duckworth says. 

Duckworth says the radiologist refused to settle out of concern for veterans and that her pressure on the department helped the Office of General Counsel open a full investigation into the allegations. 

Now, veterans believe radiology patients at the Marion VA should have additional care. "I just think these people should be notified to get a recheck or reexamination," said one attendee. 

Another huge concern discussed is the privatization of VA healthcare, something Kelly and Duckworth do not support. Duckworth says private practice doctors often only treat the health condition patients go in for, but do not do additional screenings for possible health concerns related to the veteran's service.

Kelly has problems with the financial aspect of privatization, "It's not about helping veterans. It's about shifting more money to people at the top who already a have a hell of a lot of money." 

Kelly also believes the VA needs to be better prepared for female veterans, which are starting to show up in greater numbers.

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