By Amanda Ruggeri, Washington Whispers
As chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii oversees the VA's healthcare system. But that doesn't mean the World War II veteran uses it himself. "All these years I've used my own private system," he says, going to his doctors in Hawaii. But that's because it's "easier," not because he doesn't like or trust the VA. Akaka notes that he's worked for the government for years, first for the state, then in the House, and eventually in the Senate, so he's chosen to use government healthcare. Akaka also wasn't eligible to use VA benefits when he first left the service and isn't eligible now, although he has been for a handful of years in the past. He says, "It's not that I don't want to use the VA system. . . . From what I know about the VA today, I would tell you their system is good, and I would tell you that the VA generally provides high-quality care for millions of veterans across the nation."
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Clarified on 07/02/09: Although Akaka has been eligible for VA benefits before, he isn't now and wasn't when he left the service.