Spokane veterans protest VA cuts - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Spokane veterans protest VA cuts

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

A group of veterans were out in full force Monday to protest cuts at Spokane’s VA Medical Center and call for the director to resign.

The Minimal Supervised Group (MSG) program allowed veterans to use the workout facilities on their own time. 

In a letter sent to 65 veterans on August 12, the VA wrote that there is a growing demand for the use of the Physical Therapy Clinic.

The VA states that 3,972 veterans have used the PT clinic this year, an increase from 1,820 in 2010.

The VA also says that among the people who use the PT clinic, 14,746 were by appointment, an increase from 6,060 in 2010.

But veterans waving signs and asking people to sign the petition disagree. They say the clinic is never crowded and think there is room for everyone.

“If I don't do my exercises my energy just goes and goes,” said Korean War veteran Bob McKenzie. “When they kicked me out of this program it was like giving me a death warrant.”

McKenzie and other veterans say using the clinic not only helped physically, but emotionally.

“The support that we give each other is something that the director here doesn’t understand,” said Vietnam War veteran Charlie Monroe. “These guys had a place to go three times a week, they had a place to workout.”

“They are the only people I associate with,” said McKenzie. “It gives me something to get up and look forward to.”

A spokesperson with the VA says that the veterans can still use the clinic, but that they have to get a referral from their doctor and go through a physical therapist.

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