Veterans, families air VA grievances at listening session

Posted at 11:21 PM, Jun 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-21 23:32:48-04

CINCINNATI — Veterans and their families spoke up Tuesday night at a listening session for the Cincinnati VA Medical Center, which has faced scandal and shuffling leadership since the beginning of this year.

Joan Barnes attended the session and said her husband, a veteran who died in 2015 of stage 4 bladder cancer, did not get proper treatment for his illness from the VA.

“He was such a good man, and I wanted better care for him,” Barnes said.

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Interim director and CEO Glenn Costie took notes and promised to look into participants’ complaints, but said change is a process. 

“Certainly there are a lot of leadership issues that we are working on,” Costie said. "A lot of it has been with, I think, things that were being decided in the front office.”

In February, WCPO learned that 34 current and former staff members said cost-cutting was hurting their ability to care for patients. Since then, the medical center’s leadership has shifted, and veterans such as Carl Steinmiller have noticed.

“You got some good people here, they really are,” he said. “You just need a little credit instead of all this negativity.”

Costie said the Cincinnati VA has adequate resources and that management changes will eventually fall into place.

“It didn’t happen overnight that we got this way,” Costie said.

The VA can no longer help Joan Barnes’s husband, but she said she hopes the organization will be able to provide better care to other veterans who come seeking help in the future.

“My goal is to see that nice, wonderful young men and women are receiving the care that they deserve,” she said. “They gave their all for us. We need to do that for them."

According to Costie, the VA will interview a candidate next week to take over the permanent director position. If that nomination goes forward, the Cincinnati VA could have a new leader within four months.