Critical Togus review has veterans concerned

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BY MICHAEL SHEPHERD

Leaders of the American Legion in Maine say they’re troubled by a federal watchdog’s report released last week linking the VA Maine Healthcare System to nationwide issues with mental health services, and advocates are urging veterans to take concerns to service officers for help.

The Office of the Inspector General in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs identified problems with scheduling and short staffing last year that led to some patients not getting appointments for services or enduring long waits for mental health care at the veterans system based in Togus, which serves nearly 10,000 veterans statewide for conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Reaction from veterans’ advocates has been muted as groups digest the report after its release Wednesday, but the Maine American Legion issued a statement Monday saying it’s concerned by the findings from the federal agency, which concluded that the problems made it difficult to track whether patients had “unmet needs” and could have left veterans “slipping through the cracks” of the system.

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