RENO — At an informal gathering, Congressman Mark Amodei (Nev., Dist. 2) held gathering Monday at Washoe County Commissioners Cambers in Reno to discuss several issues surrounding veterans, including dental care, medical costs, access to health services and federal funding.
“I have some access and I think we can help with some of these issues,” Amodei said following the town hall meeting. “
With a seat on the U.S. Congress’ Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Amodei stretched out his hands, hoping to get feedback from residents living in the Reno-Sparks region about those issues that impact their lives Monday.
I learned some new things,” Amodei said. “It’s good that I try to do this. It’s nice to bring it back to the center.”
Amodei, dressed casually in jeans and a casual shirt, said he took notes as those who showed up to the event explained their problems — sometimes tearfully — about struggling to get medical services through the Veterans’ Administration’s medical services, dental care, trouble with mental care and law enforcement misunderstandings and many other troubles veterans in the area face on a regular basis.
Amodei — who continues to “work” in Washington, D.C., and “live” in Nevada — said he picked up on many issued that he will take back with him as he sits on the committee of Veterans’ Affairs.
Some in the audience were extremely concerned about the cost of dental care for veterans.
Nevada reportedly ranks in the top five nationally — every one in nine Nevadans is a veteran. According to a federal census, the state is home to 330,000 veterans. However, as one member of the audience pointed out to the congressman, the state is ranked 48th nationally in benefits for veterans.
“Why is Nevada down there so far?” the audience member asked. “Can you help us look into redistribution? Make sure funds are given to us appropriately.”
“Yes, I can,” he said.
One in attendance was concerned with dental care at the Veterans’ Administration clinic.
“The majority (of veterans) cannot go,” the attendee said. “There is dismal dental decay among vets. My main concern is immediate abscesses and extractions. All they do is give them antibiotics and pain medicine and then what? They area targeting low-income veterans. They don’t have a school of dentistry (in the area for veterans to go to for low-cost care). There aren’t any options for dentistry for veterans in northern Nevada.”
Amodei said, following the discussion, that dentistry for veterans would be one issue he would follow up on when back in Washington.
“I will try to nail down what percentage is given to Nevada and if the state is funded in accordance with its population,” he said.
The Congressman also talked about the issues of geriatrics among aging vets and veteran courts in the state’s rural areas. He is also concerned with vets having to use Medicare and Medicaid because veteran benefits do not cover costs necessary to veteran care, he said.
Amodei plans to meet quarterly with veterans across the state. His next stop may be in the Fallon area, he said.
“I want to continue to meet with our veterans and listen to them regarding the issues and challenges they face,” said Amodei. “In addition to thanking them for their service, this is an opportunity to familiarize them with the assistance my office can provide, as well as to identify areas where I can help as a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.”