Struggling veteran finally gets VA benefits 31 years later - CBS46 News

Struggling veteran finally gets VA benefits 31 years later

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Source: WGCL Source: WGCL

A week and a half ago CBS46 introduced you to a woman who says she was raped while she was in the Marines 30 years ago and is struggling to get help from the VA.

That veteran was homeless and living out of her car. A day after CBS46 aired her story and pressed the VA for answers she got a call that is changing her life. 

"He said well 'I'm calling from the VA [and] I wanted to let you know that we are giving you benefits. We are granting you benefits and we're providing you with 50 percent disability and I couldn't even talk from that point. I just couldn't talk at all I kind of shut down started crying," said Pamela Parker.

It was a phone call Parker had been waiting decades for. No one in the the military believed her when she said she was raped while serving on the Marine Corp at Air Station Cherry Point. When Parker was honorably discharged in the 1980s, she had trouble adjusting to civilian life and couldn't get answers or help from the VA.

"It's almost like they're reading from a script like that's not my job you need to see someone else or you're not a veteran," said Parker.

And after 31 years of trying she almost gave up hope.

"I felt like I just wanted to end it. It was so painful to think of the productive life that I had that had disintegrated," said Parker.

Parker credits Jim Lindenmayor from the American Legion and her doctors at the VA's Trauma Recovery Center for getting her through. And she has a message for other veterans in similar situations.

"Be persistent. That is a fact," said Parker

Now Parker is living in a hotel and she's working on securing more permanent housing with her benefits from the VA. 

"We believe the veteran when they say there's something wrong," said Jim Lindenmayor.

Lindenmayor helped Parker submit to the VA the required paperwork. Lindenmayor says there's hundreds of others like Parker who aren't getting what their entitled to from the VA. He recommends reaching out to outside veteran organizations for help.

"Whether it's American Legion of VFW or DAV there should be a person that's called a service officer," said Lindenmayor.

That officer can help vets get together the paperwork needed and act as an advocate to get answers. Parker and Lindenmayor also recommend each veteran to keep all of their records organized and log dates, times and information about the people you spoke to at the VA. 

"It took things outside of the VA to actually get the help and it took a lot of work from Jim. It took you, ultimately it came down to this story being aired and it should not be that way at all. It should not take that," said Parker.

CBS46 asked the VA why Pamela Parker was denied benefits for 30 years. A spokesperson asked us to fill out a patient consent form so they can answer our question. We did. They then asked for the dates and locations of each visit Parker made to the VA asking for benefits. We provided that as well. However, they still could not give us an answer and asked for the name of every staff member throughout the past 30 years who told Parker she wasn't qualified for benefits. 

CBS46 also asked the VA why this is an ongoing problem with other veterans. They declined that it was a problem and asked for the name of every other veteran that we know of who's experiencing similar problems.

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