A metro veteran says he's sick and tired at how long it takes to get medical care from Veterans Affairs medical centers, and he's not the only one.
There's a national investigation into mismanagement at VA hospitals that may have led to veteran deaths in Arizona. Government inspectors are investigating 26 health facilities after whistleblowers reported staff using secret waiting lists to hide how long it takes for veterans to receive care.
"It's a zero tolerance kind of thing. I mean, you really have to come at it that way," said United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel about the alleged mismanagement.
The VA's investigators looking into the problems are expected to deliver the preliminary report next week.
One local veteran spoke about his struggles with how the VA is processing benefits and handling medical claims.
Sgt. Andrew Jasso has been in the Army for five years. He was deployed twice to Afghanistan and Iraq. He never thought he'd have the same problems with the VA that older veterans have had, but says the last few months have been difficult.
"Some days I having trouble walking around, trouble standing. I'm 28 years old, it shouldn't be like that," Jasso said.
Jasso suffered a back injury during a tour of duty in Afghanistan. The pain is so severe he can't even work.
"Recently it became a real problem about four or five weeks ago and I went to the doctor and he was like 'yeah you have some pretty serious back problems. We'll get your scheduled for an MRI,'" he said.
The VA agreed and scheduled the MRI for four weeks after the diagnosis. Jasso was outraged.
"That really doesn't do anything for me," he said.
This Memorial Day weekend, usually a somber reflective event, has been overshadowed by reports of sub-standard care at VA centers across the country.
The Kansas City VA Medical Center offered the following statement:
"We were able to make contact with (Jasso) and communicate and help him understand the sequence of events in the plan of his care. We want to ensure that every veteran that has a concern should call his or her provider or the medical center director's office."
Jasso received a call from the VA just before being interviewed by KCTV5 Friday.
"They were very concerned and they said they'd try and look into moving up my MRI and pain procedure, but I'm not going to hold my breath on it," he said.
Jasso's frustration isn't just tied to this medical issue. He said it took the VA about two years to process a disability claim which prevents him from receiving benefits in a timely fashion.
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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