ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A national American Legion task force fielding U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center complaints is wrapping up a week of work in the Saint Louis area.

Deputy director of claims for the American Legion’s national office Zachary Hearn says the task force gathered information from a town hall meeting and staffed a crisis center downtown for one-on-one help.

“When you’ve got a broken trust between the veteran community and [the] VA, and veterans are the sole customer, that’s a problem. That is a real problem,” he says.

Hearn says the complaints about the local VA were similar to ones they’ve heard in other parts of the country.

“Some of it was an issue of not understanding; some of it was not knowing where to go,” Hearn says. “And so, it’s been very rewarding for us to be able to help the veterans in the St. Louis area to make sure that they get the benefits they’ve earned through their service.”

He says the St. Louis crisis center helped about 175 veterans get medical appointments or file disability claims during the week.

The national American Legion is interested in helping state American Legions organize their own outreach sessions, Hearn says.

His advice for area veterans still having issues with the VA is to “continue to work with VA; continue to speak with the veteran service organizations about difficulties you’re facing, if you’re facing difficulties. Continue to work with service officers if you want to file for a disability claim.”

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)



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