Veterans Affairs Officials Say Improvements Made In San Diego System

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Ronald Stark, co-chair of the One VA Community Advocacy Board, speaks at a press conference in San Diego, Aug. 3, 2015.

San Diego Veterans Affairs officials on Monday said they've made improvements for patients.

The VA San Diego Healthcare System has seven clinics throughout San Diego County and changes have been made since criticism arose of the health care for veterans.

In the past six months, the local agency said it has converted 100 staff parking spaces to patient parking.

"We know we have to ensure that veterans who come for care don't wait to get a parking space," said Jeff Gering, CEO of the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

Gering said the agency is also working on improving service.

"We're in the process of recruiting a new chief of police," Gering said. "One of the big things we're looking for is customer service as their top priority — to connect with veterans."

Despite the improvements, Gering said the agency still faces challenges with finding enough doctors to help veterans.

"Some of it is a pay issue," Gering said. "Some of it is just a quality of life workload issue. It can be very stressful seeing patients with serious mental illnesses hour after hour."

The wait time for appealing a VA disability claim is about 199 days in San Diego County. The national average is 400 days.

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