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Portland VA gets $8M to combat long wait times

PORTLAND -- The second in command at the Department of Veterans Affairs toured the Portland VA Medical Center today and promised change is coming.

"I think it goes without saying that we have seen that trust erode over the last several months—my commitment to our veterans and my commitment to the American people and my commitment to the elected officials is -- we're going to work to earn it back," said Sloan Gibson.

It will not happen overnight.

Brian Williams, an Iraq veteran, waited two hours in a doctor's office to see a specialist.

"We get frustrated and to the point where we don't want to deal with the VA anymore. I've known guys that went outside the VA to get their own health care because they got tired of dealing with the VA," Williams said.

Gibson said the Portland VA will get nearly $8 million to send 6,000 vets currently on long wait lists to doctors outside the VA system.

Additional doctors are being hired inside the system and new equipment purchased to handle more patients.

Some, like WWII veteran Harold Lowry, are pleased with their treatment.

"Oh it's been excellent. Yeah. Been very good," he said.

But many like Elaine Johnson, who was at the Portland Medical Center with her father in law Thomas McManus, think there is still more to do.

"I think that we should divert more money to services for our veterans," Johnson said.

Deputy Secretary Gibson promised things will change.

"In as little as two years people would look at VA and say, gosh--look at that organization. Look at the quality and the care and the consistency of care that they're delivering. You remember what people were saying about VA back in 2014?" he said.

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