Homeless veteran encouraged by VA Secretary's visit - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Homeless veteran encouraged by VA Secretary's visit

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

After a visit from the nation's Secretary of Veterans Affairs on Friday, many veterans in the metro said they have a renewed sense of optimism about the future of the organization.

The head of the VA met with dozens of vets to hear their frustrations with the system, including one man who said  he's been homeless for a year.

"They've been helping me out as much as they can with what they have," Charles Randle said.

Randle served in the U.S. Army.

After that, he said he had some run-ins with the law: once for some misdemeanor crimes and then again, for trespassing.

Randle has been homeless ever since, working with the VA hospital through their Compensated Work Therapy program, making less than $200 a week.

"That helps veterans with mental, and maybe some types of physical disorders to be able to work and have a source of income," Randle said.

That struggle brought him to Friday's town hall meeting with the Secretary for Veterans Affairs.

Randle told Secretary Robert McDonald they need to do more for homeless vets like him.

"Right now, all they have -- only things they have is clothing, hygiene and other items that veterans might need -- are donated. They have no budget," Randle said.

Some have no faith in the VA to help veterans who need it, especially after that 2014 scandal where wait times were forged at hospitals across the nation, including Jackson.

"If you look at their organizational chart, it looks like a bowl of spaghetti," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Erik Hearon.

Hearon said he liked what he heard Friday, though, and hopes this marks a turn in the tide for the VA.

"I'd like for them to address the homeless issue, but also to trim their activities in areas that are just not productive," Hearon said.

One of those loose financial ends, Hearon said, is a neurosurgeon who works at Jackson's VA Medical Center, who hasn't seen a patient in almost two years but continues to draw a pretty substantial check.

"If there's a problem with that individual where they can't see patients, they need to conclude that investigation and they need to be gone," Hearon said.

Randle said he doesn't know about all that. He just wants another start at life.

"I believe a fire's been lit up under the right people. We gonna get some results. Maybe if they don't help me directly, maybe they can help another homeless vet or a vet as a whole," Randle said.

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