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Crisis center opens for patients affected by VA medical center scandal

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) - The problems plaguing the Phoenix VA medical center and the VA as a whole are well documented. Hundreds of vets are now one step closer to getting the help they need.

It's all because of a new crisis center that has opened in downtown Phoenix.

This is the first crisis center for veterans affected by the VA health care scandal to open in the country. We talked to vets who've been waiting for months just to get a doctors appointment, many of them left the crisis center today with a doctor visit scheduled for this week.

The American Legion Hall in Phoenix looks more like a waiting room as dozens of military veterans, many of them dealing with serious health problems, are finally getting answers and doctor appointments in the wake of the Phoenix VA scandal.

"It's very frustrating, and it's scary. Because I don't know what my health is going to be like in the future because of it," said David Navarette.

Marine Corps veteran Gene Sotesser was told he needed emergency heart surgery by a VA doctor only to be sent home six weeks ago.

"My wife asked me why they were sending you home, and I said they're sending me home to die. If they can send me home to die it doesn't show up that I had an appointment and that I'd die while I was on an appointment list. No, I'm on a list that nobody will see," said Stoesser.

The American Legion opened the crisis center where a team of experts and volunteers met with veterans, answering questions face to face, and scheduled doctors appointments.

"And he took me in there and asked me my background, and I gave him my paperwork, he took me over to that end table, and now I've got an appointment in two days," said Dick Shewmake.

Dick Shewmake said the problem got worse in the past few years; many veterans started to give up hope.

"A lot of these guys are busted up, blown up, they're old. After a while you throw in the towel, you get tired of asking, I mean we've got pride still," he said.

The crisis center will be open at the American Legion on 7th Ave & Van Buren in Phoenix all this week until 8 p.m..
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