The veteran community was a buzz Tuesday as the news broke that the Director at the Biloxi VA Hospital would be transferred for 18 months to the Jackson post without reason. New25 spoke with local veterans to find out what really happened. The news hit timely here on the Coast where the Biloxi Veterans Hospital announced just Monday the departure of their Acting Director, Anthony Dawson.
Ray Weaver served in the United States Navy for 22 years. He is now the Commander of the American Legion Post 1991 in Gulfport. Weaver says Dawson was transferred to Jackson, pending an investigation. Weaver says, "This guy is not being transferred up there to Jackson to help anybody. It’s because of the trouble he started in North Carolina."
Weaver says Dawson is accused of tampering with scheduling records at his previous post at a VA Medical Center in Salisbury, North Carolina. News 25 reached out the VA Hospital in Biloxi about the allegations, but they refused to comment. James Corley, the Commander of the V.F.W. Post 434 in Biloxi, says he’s not surprised about Dawson’s removal. Corley says, "This is a great VA, but they really weren’t quite meeting the expectations of our veterans."
Corley says the VA’s response to the mentally ill, homeless, and wait times were just too slow. Corley also states, "They have a beautiful building out there, and the medical staff is coming on board, but it’s slow, slow, slow.”
On a national level, President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that he’s going to be issuing several executive actions towards the mental healthcare and economic stability of our veterans. President Obama says, "We’re gonna’ get to the bottom of these problems, we’re going to fix what is wrong, we’re gonna’ do right by you, and we’re gonna’ do right by your families, and that is a solemn pledge and commitment I’m making here to you."
Corley believes the President is heading in the right direction by taking on the mental health issues of our veterans. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 young veterans from recent deployments in America take their own lives every day. Corley closes, "This suicide rate that’s happening is unacceptable."
For the time being, Mark Morgan will serve as Interim Director of the Biloxi VA. Local veterans hope under the new director there will be a greater outreach to educate our veterans and to meet their healthcare needs.