Knoxville veterans hopeful about new legislation

Thursday, President Obama signed landmark legislation in hopes of helping America's veterans

Speaking at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, the president said the government has to make sure the Department of Veterans Affairs has the resources to keep up with the needs of America's troops.

WBIR 10News caught up with one veteran who's excited, but cautious about this new measure.

Freddie Owens fought in Vietnam and his service continues today.

He works to help other vets overcome PTSD through his work with the Knoxville Regional Mental Health Council.

Owens believes the legislation President Obama signed Thursday will help Knoxville area vets by taking away some of the stress associated with traveling to see a doctor.

"We can get better treatment here than to try and drive two hours for just a 15 minute treatment. We have some individuals who have to drive to Mountain Home on a daily basis or on a weekly basis, just to get a radiation treatment. It's a burden on the individual and the family," Owens explained.

In addition to helping certain cases get private healthcare outside of the VA system, the bill will also stop bonuses for VA employees, and give the VA's administrator the power to fire senior officials.

"If we don't do our job, when we're doing a normal job, we can get fired or suspended. So why shouldn't there be anything different from them?"

While Owens believes these changes are for the better, he still believes it's on vets to hold the VA accountable to ensure they get the healthcare they earned.

"Be careful and be mindful. You may or may not get what's on that bill. You just have to make sure that when you ask for healthcare that you are persistent and that's the only way that you're going to get the health care that you need."

Blount County Veterans Services Officer Nathan Weinbaum says this legislation sounds good and looks great on paper and hopes it can make a positive difference in the lives of veterans.


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