Alabama military veterans

An Alabama congresswoman says she has complete mistrust of the health care system for veterans.

Rep. Martha Roby of Montgomery made the comment Thursday. That was one day after she met with top officials of the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System.

The interim director of the Central Alabama VA announced earlier this week that wait times for new patients had been cut by one-third. Roby says veterans are telling her that's incorrect. She said the veterans say they get appointments made within two weeks, but then they get canceled.

Veterans Administration officials say services at the troubled central Alabama VA health care facilities are improving, with more staff and shorter waits for new patients to get an appointment.

The VA's Southeast director, Charles Sepich, said the goal is to rebuild veterans' trust.

The Montgomery Advertiser

A review at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System has found an additional 1,100 X-rays dating back to 2011 that weren't read.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports VA officials conducted the review after discovering earlier this year that about 900 X-rays hadn't been read since 2009.

Officials say, of the latest scans, staff took "immediate action" to complete interpretations of about 176 and about 227 were being assessed to determine if further clinical action was needed. Officials said the rest didn't require clinical action.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby says the latest report on the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System is consistent with what she's been hearing about phony medical practices and the Veterans Administration inspectors not being aggressive about complaints.

Alabama Department of Affairs

Veterans Administration statistics show medical facilities in Montgomery and Tuskegee have some of the nation's longest waits for new patients.

The numbers show VA centers in central Alabama have an average wait time for new patients of 75 days. That's seventh-worst nationally.

Delays are shorter elsewhere in Alabama. The average wait in Tuscaloosa is 47 days, and the Birmingham VA has an average wait of 31 days for new patients.

The state of Alabama is promoting the idea of using faith-based ministries to help military veterans.

   The Governor's Office of Faith-Based and Volunteer Service is joining other groups in sponsoring a seminar to help pastors, clergy and other faith leaders reach out to veterans.

   Alabama has more than 400,000 veterans, and at least 4,000 of them are affected by post-traumatic stress syndrome. As many as 5 percent of them are believed to be contemplating suicide.