(WBIR) Tennessee is taking a crack at cutting down on the time it takes for veterans to get the care they need.
Thursday, State Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) announced the appointment of State Speaker Pro Tempore Curtis (R-Clarksville) to chair a newly created legislative task force on veterans' affairs.
The task force comes in the wake of an investigation from WBIR partners at USA today. New data released from the Department of Veterans Affairs found two of the top 25 worst offenders in the country for wait times are in Tennessee.
The report found the average wait time a veteran faces in Nashville is 65 days, which is the highest in the nation. The VA in Mountain Home ranked 21st worst in the nation. On average, new patients waited 35 days to see a doctor.
The data conflicts with numbers provided by the Mountain Home clinic. The clinic said it treats 55,000 veterans and officials said only three patients waited longer than two weeks for an appointment.
Those who know first-hand the struggles so many veterans face believe the task force is a step in the right direction.
Campbell County Veterans Affairs Director Kevin Walden said, "I think the legislative task force for Tennessee veterans will be a good thing for our veterans. The people who are assigned on this task force are veterans themselves. So who better to tell the story on how the veterans are getting treated than the veterans themselves."
Other members of the task force will include Representative Curtis Halford (R-Dyer), Representative John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge), Representative John Forgety (R-Athens) and Representative Karen Camper (D-Memphis). The Tennessee House of Representatives has 25 veterans among its members.
Representative Ragan praised the task force and said he looks forward to finding a solution. In a statement he said, "As a retired Air Force pilot of 24 years and current co-chair of the veteran's caucus, these issues are very important to me. We must take care of those who have sacrificed for our freedoms appropriately."