The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Danville News

July 3, 2014

Danville American Legion leader: Veterans change welcome

— DANVILLE — With the White House’s nomination of Robert McDonald as the nation’s new secretary of Veterans Affairs, local veterans officials are hoping the organization can put its recent scandals behind it.

“It looks like he has the qualifications,” said Dean Von Blohn, commander of Danville American Legion Post 40. McDonald served for five years as a captain in the U.S. Army before spending a long career at Procter & Gamble, most recently serving as the company’s CEO until his retirement in 2013.

“It’s a general consensus of opinion at Post 40 that change was needed,” Von Blohn said. “They need something changed because I’ve heard horror stories form some veterans that did not get the proper care.”

“I cannot believe that things were not being reported,” Von Blohn continued, saying that if the previous head of Veterans Affairs, General Eric Shineski, was paying attention, he should have noticed something was wrong.

Doug Resseguie, Montour County’s veterans affairs officer, said he was hesitant to comment on McDonald yet.

“Certainly we all hope he’ll do a good job,” he said. Resseguie said he felt Shinseki was unfairly blamed for the poor treatment veterans had been receiving under the department.

“I really think that Gen. Shinseki was a tremendous asset to the VA and I’m sorry and sad to see him go. I don’t think that he was aware of what was going on at hospitals like Phoenix. I think a lot of things were hidden from him,” Resseguie said. “I believe he fell on his own sword to make sure the focus was taken off of him and put where it should have been, and that was fixing the VA healthcare system … He cares so much for veterans that he wants to make sure they’re taken care of regardless of what happens to him.”

Shinseki did a lot to help Vietnam veterans, making benefits available to them that they didn’t have before, and reducing the number of backlogged claims, Resseguie said.

As far as Resseguie knows, Danville area veterans never had any of the serious problems reported by other vets who sought care from the VA, such as long delays for treatment.

“We’ve been very lucky. Our local VA hospitals like Wilkes-Barre and Lebanon have been doing a great job with our veterans. I think there have been very few problems,” he said. “Most of my veterans have nothing but good things to say about Wilkes-Barre and Lebanon.”

Von Blohn praised Resseguie’s own work with Montour County’s veterans.

“He’s phenomenal. Once you register with him … he follows through,” he said.

Email comments to rstoneback@thedanvillenews.com.

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