EGLIN AFB — Leaders of the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System came to town Tuesday hoping to get some feedback from veterans who use the local Department of Veterans Affairs medical clinic.

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EGLIN AFB — Leaders of the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System came to town Tuesday hoping to get some feedback from veterans who use the local Department of Veterans Affairs medical clinic.

They got what they were looking for, and maybe more.

Dr. Christopher Saslo, the interim director of the GCVHCS, opened the meeting with an acknowledgment that the system, which oversees VA medical facilities from Biloxi, Mississippi, to Panama City, has room for improvement.

“Are we where we want to be yet? No,” Saslo told the 50 or so people who attended the meeting. “We’ve struggled to get the right people in the right numbers, but we’ve made significant progress. We have people in this room tonight who are doing great work.”

Saslo invited people to come forward with comments or questions, and several shared both good and bad impressions.

“I’ve been retired now for 11 years,” David Goehringer said. “I’ve had 21 surgeries, and at one time I was on 34 different medications. The negative information I’ve heard about the VA, I just haven’t seen it. But I do have a slew of people who have given me great treatment. I’ve written their names on this list so you can see it.”

But the next speaker, a woman named Celeste who said she is a former military flight surgeon, had little positive to say.

“I’ve run into more rudeness and inconsideration here than at any place I’ve ever been,” she said. “I’ve seen vets with TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) treated very roughly.”

Saslo apologized to the woman and expressed his desire to try to change the culture at the system.

“That’s what we’re up against, a culture,” he said. “We’re not in the business of showing people we are rude and unsympathetic. That’s not what any of us strive for.”

As other veterans brought up issues they face, Saslo directed them to some of the staff members who sat with clipboards and pens in hand.

“One of the things I like to emphasize to people is that when we’re meeting a veteran for the first time, or are the first person to greet a veteran, none of us knows what’s behind their eyes," he said. "We don’t know what they’ve suffered, what they’re going through or what they’re thinking of going through. We are working to change the culture, but it’s not going to happen overnight.”