Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) spoke at the Veterans War Memorial on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia on Friday, where she announced the most recent results of her Veterans Customer Satisfaction Program, an unscientific, confidential survey of veteran’s experiences at VA facilities in Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia.
The results of the survey were generally positive, with 61 percent of the 800 veterans who participated rating their overall experience with the VA as excellent or above average. Seventy-eight percent said they would recommend their VA facility to other veterans. McCaskill congratulated Columbia’s VA system for receiving the highest marks.
The Veterans Customer Satisfaction survey is now in it’s fourth year. McCaskill says there are plans next year to expand the survey to southeast Missouri and Poplar Bluff, which serves nearly 20,000 veterans.
The announcement comes at a time when the VA is facing allegations in a number of states, including Missouri, involving the accessibility of services at VA hospitals. McCaskill says she expects the allegation that a VA hospital in St. Louis was creating an artificial backlog of care that resulted in longer wait times for veterans will be included in the inspector generals planned investigation of the VA system.
"That whistleblower was the same as one survey participant," said McCaskill. "So what we need to do is we need to get to the bottom of what that allegation is and find out if it’s truthful."
Senator McCaskill recently co-signed a letter with Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) asking Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to address serious allegations regarding the availability of mental health services within the VA. But McCaskill says that she doesn't want political points to be scored on the backs of veterans.
"Having a knee jerk reaction for firing people before the investigation has been complete is politicizing the issue," said McCaskill. "Ultimately, we shouldn't have Democrats or Republicans when it comes to veterans. We should just have Americans."