Former Air Force officer calls Washington's approach to veteran health care ‘short-sighted’

Washington is often disconnected from the veterans communities, and that division can lead to ineffective policies, former Air Force officer Michael Haynie told Hill.TV.

“The extent to which we have conversations in D.C. about the social, economic, wellness concerns of this community without connecting those conversations back to the communities in which veterans are going to live, work, raise families I think is pretty short-sighted,” Haynie told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball and Shermichael Singleton this week on “Rising.”

Haynie, who served in various veterans-focused roles in the Obama administration, is the founder and executive director of The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University.

In 2014, IVMF established AmericaServes, a group that helps connect veterans with the resources they need through a network of public, private and nongovernmental organizations.

The group's founding came the same year that the Department of Veterans Affairs was dealing with multiple reports of veterans waiting for months to get an appointment at their local VA clinic.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer employees critique EPA under Trump in new report Fired State Department watchdog says Pompeo aide attempted to 'bully' him over investigations Virginia senator calls for Barr to resign over order to clear protests MORE in June signed legislation allowing veterans to see doctors outside of the traditional VA health care system. The measure, which passed Congress with strong bipartisan support, gives some service members who live within 30 minutes from their nearest VA medical facility the option to see a private doctor.

Each year, about 200,000 service members transition out of the military each year, and those new veterans have to deal with more than just trying to see a doctor, Haynie said.

According to AmericaServes, the No. 1 reported by returning service members is navigating the available resources.

“Veterans are not transitioning to big national programs — they’re transitioning to towns, villages, communities,” Haynie told Hill.TV.

He said AmericaSaves now has support networks in cities like New York, Pittsburgh, San Antonio and Seattle.

“It really is one of the most innovative things I think we’re doing as an institute,” Haynie said.

—Tess Bonn