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Rep. Joe Garcia offers ideas for fixing VA

@dchangmiami

After a series of visits to VA clinics in his district, and closed-door meetings with South Florida veterans and administrators for the Miami VA Healthcare System, Congressman Joe Garcia this week publicized a list of recommendations for improving local VA services. 

Garcia’s recommendations, outlined in a white paper released Monday, address issues such as timely access to care, a lack of mental health services in some areas, and deteriorating facilities.

The Miami VA operates clinics from Deerfield Beach to Key West, and most of the facilities identified in Garcia’s recommendations are located in Homestead and the Florida Keys. 

The paper does not address how the VA would accomplish the recommended actions, such as investing in “21st century physical facilities” or “expanding the availability of psychiatric and psychological services” in Florida Keys clinics. 

But a spokeswoman for Garcia noted that Miami VA administrators already have begun to implement some of the congressman’s recommendations, such as expanding clinic hours in Homestead, and hiring a new social worker and nurse in Key West.

Miami VA officials did not return a call for comment on Garcia’s recommendations Monday.

--DANIEL CHANG

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