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Orangeburg, SC (WLTX) -- Over the past few weeks Columbia's VA hospital has experienced issues with its operating rooms, but area veterans also have concerns with the services they're getting at VA clinics across the Midlands.

"The VA has been excellent to me, I will not tell a story," Army and Navy veteran Randal Dickson said.

Dickson retired from the military almost 30 years ago and never had a problem with the VA system until now.

"We've lost our doctors, we can't get the help we need now," Dickson said. "In fact I haven't seen a doctor now...for over 6 months."

"The thing that we run into sometimes is if you have a clinic such as the Orangeburg clinic where we have three providers, if you lose just one provider then that's a significant impact. That's literally one-third of the staff," Rich Boggan said who is Dorn VA's Community Based Outpatient Clinic Administrative Officer.

Marine Veteran Johnnie Houser said at his clinic it's worse.

"I realized then they had to get another doctor in and he only came once a month so you've got a lot of people trying to see one doctor so that can get to be a problem," Houser said.

But vets are really feeling the high turnover rate in the mental health department.

"What I can understand, he's the best we've had around here," Dickson said.

Dickson is talking about former VA Orangeburg clinic psychiatrist, Dr. Alberto Gonzalez.


"All I want is more time, I don't want more money, I just want more time and they wouldn't give it to me," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said he received complaints from management saying that he was spending too much time with patients.

"I try to tell them I can't say to this person, 'Look, I'm sorry your 20 minutes are up,'" Gonzalez said. "This person was trying to kill themselves."

He said he was put on suspension and then officials decided to retire him.

"That was really painful because I really loved my job. If they had to expect those things from me, I just considered it malpractice to have to cut somebody short if they needed the time," Gonzalez said.

News19 asked the Va about the need for more doctors and they told us they're making this a "top priority."

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