ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Veterans Of Foreign Wars from across the state gathered in the center of the state on Friday for the Annual VFW State Convention in Alexandria. But along with the festivities, the future of the Veteran’s Affairs Department is at the center of their attention.
“I have a lot of questions and concerns about quality of life issues," said Fred Wesley, Louisiana National Councilmen for VFW.
One vet at the forefront of making changes in the VA is Wesley, who travels to Capitol Hill annually lobbying for new policies nationally. Including the new Trump Administration, and Louisiana’s Department Of Veteran's Affairs.
"We would like to see them get more interested in veteran's affairs and focus more on the quality of life, particularly the ones that have served in the wars and were badly damaged," said Wesley.
One of the top concerns, simplifying the VA’s choice program that allows vets to use private hospitals for care.
"We would like to see where the veteran's go straight to the hospital and the VA will pick up the tab with no questions asked," said Wesley.
the head of Louisiana’s Dept. of the VA agreed.
"We think private care should support VA medicine and I think that's the national position of most veterans," said Joey Strickland, Sec. of Louisiana Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs.
Strickland also said the Alexandria VA is a "work in progress" specifically when it comes to access.
"We are working with Peter Dancy (Director of the Alexandria VA) very closely on clearing up problems that veterans perceive that they have," said Strickland.
And for Wesley, he wants more veteran cemeteries across the state.
"I live in New Iberia so if I was to die I would either have to go to Baton Rouge or either Shreveport or Alexandria to be buried," said Wesley.
But he was hopeful changes are on the way.
"I’m very confident, yes," said Wesley.