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Sen. Mazie Hirono Takes On VA Over Hawaii Vet Problems

The senator hosted a field hearing Tuesday to learn what the VA is doing to improve conditions and cut down on wait times for patients.

Hawaii veterans complained to U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono on Tuesday about the reams of bureaucracy that often prevent them from getting timely access to health care and other services.

Among their concerns were the long waits to be seen by Veterans Affairs doctors, troubles traveling from the neighbor islands and an overall sense that their needs are being ignored by those whose job it is to serve them.

“The core issue may be one of attitude,” said Victor Craft, a Vietnam War veteran from Oahu. “The veteran is not a piece of paper to be shuffled through a never-ending corridor of administration. They are people.”

Hirono held a field hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in Honolulu to address the concerns of Hawaii residents who served in the armed forces.

Attendees included Craft and several other veterans, including Hawaii Army National Guard Capt. Elisa Smithers, who said she was a combat veteran who has struggled with alcoholism, nightmares and violent outbursts ever since serving tours of duty in Iraq and Kuwait.

 “There always needs to be more done, but it’s a matter of what are we going to address,” Hirono said. “I think the communication piece is important, and so Mr. Pfeffer has to continue to have a commitment to listening to the veterans.”

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