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Advocate says veterans healthcare remains slow, inefficient

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

Speaking Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery, President Obama said he is still not satisfied with the care veterans receive from the VA. One disabled Vietnam veteran who spoke locally Wednesday would agree.

Appearing at Veterans Day at Niagara University, Bob Wieland told a crowd in the Castellani Art Museum veterans don't get the care they need and deserve, although they will be told they will get help.

Wieland says 22 soldiers a day commit suicide. He says slow and inefficient medical care is a lot of the problem for those in desperate need of help.

He told the crowd after nearly dying in Vietnam when he lost both his legs in combat and was pronounced dead by two doctors, it took the VA seven-and-a-half years to admit he had lost his legs. Wieland lost his legs after stepping on a mine.

Wieland says soldier suicide is a long-running and long-hidden problem.

"My layman's opinion is nobody wanted to deal with it. And, of course, it is an issue," Wieland said.

"From what I have been told 22 soldiers are committing suicide every day. We know it's a serious problem and we know it does need to be addressed. And it's up to our government who sent many, many men and women to war."

During an earlier ceremony at Niagara, two university graduates were remembered as part of the Remembrance Day National Roll Call of dead military members. Wieland says he tells veterans they will get help but it may be slow when they need fast and he says truth requires him to tell of the difference.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.