Retired veteran recounts terrible treatment by VA

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A retired U.S. Marine Corps corporal says after more than a year of waiting and tests, he was denied treatment at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Tampa, Florida.

In a report by The Washington Free Beacon, veteran Rick Disney revealed the deplorable treatment he received at the facility.

According to the report, Disney served for around a year before a 1999 training exercise ended in a fall from a repel tower, leaving him with a broken heel. In his subsequent years of service, Disney was deployed overseas, where he was involved in anti-terrorism operations. As an active duty service member, he suffered injuries and hardships that left him with neck, back, and leg pain that persisted for more than a decade.

From the report:

[Disney] first visited the Veterans Affairs hospital in Tampa, Fla., to receive care in 2013. He recalls a chaotic process, running around the facility’s campus for six hours in an attempt to file a claim for treatment.

Disney then waited nine months to receive his first appointment. He spent another six months undergoing medical tests, but never received treatment.

A year later, Disney received a letter rejecting his claim for benefits, asserting his injuries weren’t sustained on active duty.

“When I got the denial claim in the mail, I was disappointed, but I didn’t expect much,” Disney told the Free Beacon. “The staff’s treatment throughout the whole ordeal set it up where I wasn’t surprised when I was turned away. It was just a long, drawn-out process, and for the veterans who are in immediate need for care, that’s a life or death issue.”

Meanwhile, through at least three proposed bills, lawmakers in Washington are seeking ways to give vets the option of seeking private-sector medical care when timely care by the VA is unattainable.

The Beacon reports:

Though varying in detail, all three pieces of legislation would overhaul the private-sector Veterans Choice Program created by Congress in response to a 2014 scandal regarding over manipulated wait times at federal facilities that led to the deaths of dozens of veterans.

The conservative group, Concerned Veterans for America, has advocated for a Senate measure that would increase access to private care “rather than relying on the VA bureaucracy to determine eligibility criteria,” cosponsored by Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and John Moran (Kan.).

Disney, who now works as a senior field director at CVA, said he knows vets who could not get care, who he says “self-medicated and now they’re dead.”

“If they had the opportunity to go to any doctor and use their VA benefits elsewhere,” Disney said, “there’s a possibility that something different would have happened.”

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