ST. CLOUD-- A group of veterans, union members, and St. Cloud VA employees protested VA privatization in the rain Thursday evening.

After the passing of the Veteran Access Choice and Accountability Act in 2014 and the VA Mission Act in 2018, the group is concerned that government and special interest groups looking to privatize will lessen the quality of care provided to veterans.

Gregg James, Vice President for District 8 of the American Federation of Government Employees says the biggest problem with the VA today is understaffing.

[The VA is] still considered the number one single-source health provider in the country. Nintey-two percent of veterans like the care that they get. The issue is with getting them in and getting their appointments, and that's hard to do when you're down 35,000 people across the country.

Should the VA system become privatized locally or nationwide, the group believes an influx of veteran patients will place extra stress on private healthcare companies and impact all citizens trying to access care. James says the VA is still best equipped to handle the wounds of war.

They're the number one provider for folks that have prosthetics. Nobody is better equipped to deal with the wounds of war than the VA.

Nationwide, there is a shortage of about 35,000-40,000 VA employees and growing concerns that the current system is not as successful as it used to be.