Help For Our Heroes

(WSVN) - Disabled vets are being forced to walk a long way to their doctors’ offices because of a parking shortage at Miami’s VA Hospital. 7’s Brian Entin says one local lawmaker is vowing to get help for these heroes.

You’ve just navigated the massive congestion in Downtown Miami.

You’ve pulled into the parking lot of the VA Hospital for your doctor’s appointment with 30 minutes to spare.

Stanley Pannaman, Vietnam vet: “There was no way I was going to be able to make it on time.”

Now, all you have to do is park.

Stanley Pannaman: “What I have been forced to do is cancel appointments.”

But 45 minutes later … no luck! There are no spaces available and now, you’ve missed your appointment which took weeks to schedule.

Stanley Pannaman: “It’s not just me, it’s every veteran that comes to this institution. The problem is just that there are too many veterans and not enough space to park your car.”

Seventy-four-year-old Stanley Pannaman served in the Vietnam War. In 1964, he was injured while serving our country. He relies on the medical care he gets at the VA Hospital and once he gets there, he needs a parking space.

Stanley Pannaman: “I’m 100 percent disabled American veteran. Walking is very difficult for me.”

The VA claims there are about 1,800 parking spaces available between three lots, but they aren’t enough.

Shane Suzuki, spokesman VA Hospital Miami: “You’re talking about between two and three thousand patients a day, who are coming in for appointments. We have a strong volunteer program and then we have our employees.”

The VA rents more spaces at a garage downtown, which is a 20 minute shuttle ride back to the hospital.

The simple solution would be to have employees and volunteers park there so patients could park at the hospital. But a federal law prohibits the use of veterans funds to be used on anyone other than a veteran.

That means the VA can not pay to shuttle employees and volunteers to and from the parking garage.

Shane Suzuki: “It’s frustrating for us because our goal is to do right by vets, always.”

But there is hope for our heroes. When Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz heard about the restriction in the law, she decided to do something about it.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz: ” It really was as simple as introducing legislation called the Veterans PARC Act essentially removing that prohibition so that the VAs across the country can shuttle their employees and allow patients to park in the close up spaces.”

She says lawmakers will vote on the legislation in the fall and there’s a good chance it will pass.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz: “This is a simple, almost inexplicable obstacle that we need eliminate.”

But in the mean time, veterans like Stanley will be forced to continue the tiring trek to the doctor.

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