SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Richard Crockett as the new director of Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport in October.
KSLA News 12's Marie Waxel sat down and spoke with the new director Tuesday morning, discussing everything from his previous experience with the VA and his vision for the future of the Shreveport facility.
"We are a healthcare institution. We stand at a nexus in the crossroads of the most human experiences ever. This is where people experience grief, pain, shock, rage, they are at their most vulnerable when they come here and we can't forget that," said Crockett.
Crockett comes to Shreveport with 25 years of experience with the VA, and he's hit the ground running bringing new ideas to the table.
"It's a fresh start," said Crockett. "I can ask questions no one else has asked because I'm not used to some of the things here that I'm seeing."
Crockett started working at the VA as a nurse, working his way through a majority of the departments in facilities across the country.
"I can speak a lot of different languages because of that, and have a little bit of understanding, I'll never quite understand what it's like to be a housekeeper or an engineer but pretty close and I know a lot of different things because I've worked a lot of different areas and I love them," said Crockett.
After spending the last year in Shreveport, Crockett said he felt drawn to stay.
"It's really the people that drew me here, and I wanted to be a part of the good things, truly, that I see for Shreveport," he said, "I put my career on the line for that, and it's the people, they just want to do the right thing. They have an amazing passion for what they do, for the veterans that are here."
Crockett is ready to face the good and the bad when it comes to ensuring the quality of care.
"There are veterans that are happy with the care that they get. My concern as a CEO and as a human being is that we can't rest on our laurels just because a majority of the patients are happy, we can't ignore the ones that aren't. We can't. There's too much at stake for that, so that's my biggest concern is we only look at the good things and not the bad, or that we will look at the bad things," said Crockett, "because I will tell you what concerns me, as a person that loves veterans, when there are negative perceptions out there about the VA it actually gets in the way of people getting the care that they need."
His focus is on streamlining care to fit individual needs.
"We're more than a healthcare organization, in my mind we are special place where people should be able to come to and feel safe and feel comfortable it's a sacred trust," said Crockett, "I begged my own World War II veteran grandfather to come into our system, and he did and he loved it. Are there challenges? Sure."
Cockett said he is asking for the community to take a chance of him.
"Give us a chance. See for yourself, you earned that right and there's no other organization on the planet that loves veterans more than we do."
Overton Brooks will hold an open house event on Thursday, November 2, from 10 a.m. until noon.
The public is welcome to come tour the facility and bring your questions and if you're a veteran you can enroll in the system as well.
On Tuesday, the Department of Veterans Affairs launched an interactive website that allows patients to check average wait times at facilities across the nation.