McCaskill Finds Mo. Vets Satisfied with VA

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COLUMBIA - Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., made a stop in Columbia just before Memorial Day weekend on Friday to tell her constituents that Missouri's veterans are relatively satisfied with the care they are receiving at Missouri's VA hospitals and clinics.

The VA has been under fire in recent months amid allegations the department has been covering up delays in care. 

McCaskill's office launched the Veterans' Customer Satisfaction Program survey back in 2011 after a controversy at St. Louis' VA hospital. The survey allows veterans to act as "secret shoppers," giving confidential feedback on the care they received at hospitals or clinics.

McCaskill publicly released the results Friday. Her survey found 61 percent of veterans rated their overall experience with the VA Medical Centers as excellent or above average. Another 17.4 percent gave the VA a fair rating.

The survey splits the state up into three regions based on the locations of hospitals: Columbia, Kansas City and St. Louis. In Columbia, 90 percent of veterans surveyed would recommend their VA facility to other veterans, and nearly 80 percent rate their experience as excellent or above average.

Although McCaskill said the survey shows encouraging results, she also said it identified areas for improvement.

Truman VA Spokesman Stephen Gaither said the Columbia-area hospitals and clinics need to improve wait times.

"It's a performance measure that we look at on a regular basis," Gaither said. "We know the numbers that we have in relation to scheduling a patient that's brand new to our system. That recommended guidance is that we do that in 14 days for the majority of them to show up. We hit that mark a lot. But on average a new veteran coming to the Truman VA for the first appointment, it's gonna be just under 20 days."

Veterans can click here to take McCaskill's survey and comment on their VA experiences.