Mesa veteran: 'I chained myself to a chair to get help' - CBS46 News

ONLY ON 5

Mesa veteran: 'I chained myself to a chair to get help'

Posted: Updated:
Gabriel Basso Gabriel Basso
Gabriel Basso and sister at Navy boot camp graduation, in 1973. Gabriel Basso and sister at Navy boot camp graduation, in 1973.
MESA, AZ (CBS5) -

Gabriel Basso, a 59-year-old Navy veteran who served in Vietnam, suffered from lower back pain for years.

"I would just lie awake for hours and hours, and then during the day I would sleep a little bit because I was so tired," he said. "But, that's the kind of pain I was in."

Basso, who lives in Mesa, first went to the Phoenix VA in January of 2011 hoping to get some relief.

"They said, 'well we're booked way out, but we'll try to get you in 60 days," he said.

After several follow-up calls to the Phoenix VA, Basso finally saw a doctor that April.

"It was a 10 minute examination where the doctor gave me a heat blanket," Basso explained. "He said that was my problem."

But, his back pain worsened.

After a lot of persistence on Basso's part, from May through July, he finally got the Phoenix VA to schedule an appointment,  four months down the road on October 31.

By October 3, he'd had it with chronic pain and demanded to see a doctor.

"For two days I went to the walk in (clinic) and was told he couldn't see me," Basso said. "On the third day, that was it. I chained myself to back of the chair. "

After being ignored for five hours, Basso said VA police threatened to arrest him if he didn't leave.

So, Basso left.

As he was driving to his scheduled appointment on Halloween, a truck slammed into him.

Basso said the wreck was so bad, crews had to use the Jaws of Life to get him out of his totaled car.

"Maricopa Medical Center said ‘you don't have any fractures that need immediate medical attention so we're cutting you loose to the VA,'" Basso recalled.

The next day, November 1, he went back to the Phoenix VA only to wait eight hours and be turned away.

Basso said Phoenix VA employees told him to come back in a few weeks.

"Unfortunately, the pain was just unbearable," he said.

Three days later, Basso went to John C. Lincoln Hospital where he was diagnosed with herniated and ruptured discs.

He underwent emergency back surgery the next day.

Basso said it took seven months, and three appeals, before the Phoenix VA finally agreed to pay his medical bills.

And he said it was five months after his surgery before they provided him with physical therapy.

"It's past terrible," Basso said. "And we as a country should be very ashamed of ourselves that the people who did the most, we seem to be doing the very least for."

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • ONLY ON 5Mesa veteran: 'I chained myself to a chair to get help'More>>

  • SIDEBAR: VA deaths

    Related

    Tuesday, June 24 2014 6:41 PM EDT2014-06-24 22:41:25 GMT
    CNN: Veterans languish and die on a VA hospital's secret list (4/23/14) CNN: Hospital delays are killing America's war veterans (11/18/13)More >
    CNN: Veterans languish and die on a VA hospital's secret list (4/23/14) CNN: Hospital delays are killing America's war veterans (11/18/13)More >
Powered by WorldNow
CBS Atlanta
Powered by WorldNow
All content © 2000-2014 WorldNow and WGCL-TV. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.