Union, veterans rally at VA Medical Center for ‘equity, equality’
By WVUA 23 News Reporter A’Leeyah Ponder
Members of the American Federation of Government Employees who work at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center gathered together with veterans outside the facility Wednesday over what they say is poor management, a lack of transparency and challenging work conditions.
Employees said they’re seeking fairness and equal opportunities for advancement, and the veterans say they deserve their benefits in a reasonable time frame.
“We don’t understand why everyone can’t receive (benefits) when we’re supposed to receive it. That’s one of the biggest problems that we have,” said veteran Alonzo Brown.
The local union represents more than 700 VA employees.
“It’s very disheartening because we’re all here because we love our jobs and we love our veterans and we love the people, we love the veterans that we serve,” said AFGE Local 131 Vice President Deborah Jordan.
Veterans said fighting for what they’re owed by the government they fought for is exhausting.
“I’m outraged that we’re still experiencing this today when there should be a change and there’s not,” said Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center employee Denise, who did not want her last name used.
Rally attendees said they’re saddened by the lack of support, resources and assistance they’ve been provided when experiencing problems in the VA.
“I don’t want it to happen to other veterans what happened to me cause I had to be hospitalized,” said veteran and Tuscaloosa VA Medical center employee Jennifer Anderson. “I want to be able to make a change for other veterans.”
Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center representatives did not want to comment on camera, but Public Relations Officer April Jones shared the following message in response to the rally on behalf of the center:
“A goal is to be the best place to work, and we understand that includes addressing issues at the lowest level and through the appropriate resolution processes. Employees with concerns are encouraged to report them to their direct supervisors, the medical center’s anonymous reporting hotline, or VAs multiple avenues of redress.”