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VA Officials Hold Open House In Phoenix

(Photo by Carrie Jung — KJZZ)
VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson speaks with a veteran at the Phoenix medical center open house.

The Phoenix Veterans Affairs medical center hosted an open house for veterans and their families to help them get the word out about new agency initiatives and talk about challenges they’ve encountered at the facility.

VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson and new Phoenix Medical Center director Rima Nelson were among those in attendance.

Before the open house got under way, Gibson spent much of his day talking with VA staff about what has improved and what still needs some work.

He cited more completed appointments and the construction of a parking garage as positives, but added primary care supply and demand is still an issue. Gibson explained officials are working to hire more support staff for those doctors.

"If we took a snapshot and froze demand two and a half years ago, I think we’d be looking at a very different situation than the one we’ve got right now," Gibson said. "But we haven’t. More veterans are coming to us for more healthcare than ever. So we’re still working to balance supply and demand."

Veteran response to the event was varied. Some stopped by to say thanks for a good experience, while many hoped for a few seconds with agency leadership to get help resolving ongoing issues.

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Carrie Jung Senior Field Correspondent, Education Desk Carrie Jung began her public radio career in Albuquerque, N.M., where she fell in love with the diverse cultural scene and unique political environment of the Southwest. Jung has been heard on KJZZ since 2013 when she served as a regular contributor to the Fronteras Desk from KUNM Albuquerque. She covered several major stories there including New Mexico's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and Albuquerque's failed voter initiative to ban late-term abortions. Jung has also contributed stories about environmental and Native American issues to NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's The World, Al Jazeera America, WNYC's The Takeaway, and National Native News. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in marketing, both from Clemson University. When Jung isn't producing content for KJZZ she can usually be found buried beneath mounds of fabric and quilting supplies. She recently co-authored a book, "Sweet And Simple Sewing," with her mother and sister, who are fabric designers.