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Caddo Parish Commission hosts Veteran Affairs meeting

A meeting about veterans affairs, leaves many in attendance with more questions than answers.
A meeting about Veterans Affairs, leaves many in attendance with more questions than answers.

The Caddo Parish Commission of Veterans Affairs Committee invited the public to hear three top Veteran Affairs Officials speak.

The three included: David LaCerte, Secretary of the State of Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, Toby Mathew, Interim Medical Center Director at Overton Brooks VA Medical Center, and Sailor Jackson Jr., the Deputy Secretary of Outreach Services, Louisiana Secretary of State.

However, instead of talking about the current VA investigation, they spoke of local and state activities and projects, including the construction of a new southwing at Overton Brooks.

Local veterans were invited to come up and speak to the crowd.

Some spoke about positive experiences at the local V.A., another spoke through tears, saying he was a Vietnam Veteran who suffered from PTSD and couldn't get the help he needed at the local V.A.

Each resident who spoke had about three minutes to share their story.

All agreed that finding help for PTSD in the area was very hard, and while there may be some problems at the local V.A., it's not as bad as it may sound.

During Mathew's address, he said things like the VA provides "quality and timely healthcare" and that "we are a very good system."

He added that he's "a proud V.A. employee" and that "we are pleased, the V.A. is doing a great job."

NBC 6 News tried speaking with Mathew after the meeting, but he quickly left without answering any questions from the media.

LaCerte, however, spoke freely to cameras addressing multiple questions.

When asked about U.S. Senator David Vitter's (R-La.) request for a thorough investigation into the waitlist times at Overton Brooks Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Shreveport, he said, "I echo Senator Vitter's concern and I echo his sentiment and his advice. There needs to be an investigation." 

LaCerte also says that something needs to be done to get to the bottom of it all.

"I think we lose some of the trust in an organization whenever we get the feeling they're not being forthcoming," he said. "The fact that a whistleblower has to come forward and say things about the organization as a whole is very troubling. It's time the VA more timely started answering to the public and more time answering to veterans."

Overton Brooks serves about 37,000 veterans in the community.
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