Gus Bilirakis to hold town-hall meeting with veterans June 5

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U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis is inviting Pinellas County veterans to join him for a “candid conversation” about their experiences with local VA offices.

The Palm Harbor Republican is holding a town hall-style meeting for feedback from constituents of Florida’s 12th Congressional District over any delays in getting necessary care. He plans to use the information as a guideline for legislative action.

Recent reports revealed that the Department of Veterans Affairs had denied care to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, who waited for months to be seen by VA doctors. Several VA facilities may have been using “secret” waiting lists to cover up the lapses in care. Dozens of veterans died while waiting for the delayed care. Twenty-six VA facilities are now being investigated.

Florida is home to nearly 2 million veterans.

“I have spent the past several months participating in oversight hearings in Washington regarding the failures of the VA throughout the country,” Bilirakis said in a statement. “However, I need to hear directly from those who matter most, our Veterans and their families, in order to get the clear picture regarding how these systemic national problems may be impacting my constituents.

“I want to hear the good, the bad and the ugly on this. I want the truth and I want to brainstorm possible solutions.”

The event, which is open to the public, will be on June 5, beginning at 10 a.m. at the New Port Richey City Hall Council Chambers, 5919 Main St. in Port Richey.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.