Frustrations mount as veteran programs lack consistent staffing

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COLUMBIA - Veterans at the Truman VA are feeling frustrated with what they call a "lack of consistency" in their weekly programs.

Many of them attend "The Healing Box Project" guitar lessons on Tuesday, and group therapy sessions on Thursday.

Both have been canceled on occasion, and veterans traveling from outside areas were not notified until they arrived.

Curtis Mokshefski, a veteran who attends both programs, said they help a lot.

"We need these programs," he said. "They're here for the veterans, the veterans are not here for the VA."

According to the VA, the cancellations happened after staff facilitators left on short notice.

Veteran Ricky Moore said he hopes full-time replacements can be found.

"Facilitators get fired or quit for whatever reason," he said. "I still think that's no reason to leave the veterans stranded."

The VA said both programs will run as scheduled moving forward, although perhaps without a full time staff member. The Healing Box Project founders, Dave and CJ Dunklee, will be able to run their program with a facilitator, the hospital said.

"Our veterans are our top priority," the VA said in a statement to KOMU 8 News. "We will continue to provide The Healing Box project along with state-of-the-art facilities so that Dave and CJ can continue to help our veterans through the power of music."

Veteran Joseph Kelly Johnson said he still hopes a full-time staff member can join them.

"A lot of us are concerned about the future," he said. "The uncertainty alone causes a lot of anxiety from everybody."