Georgia woman says she's been battling VA for 20+ years - CBS46 News

Georgia woman says she's been battling VA for 20+ years

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Source: WGCL Source: WGCL

Denise Sorkness is a proud American. A patriotic southern woman. But right now Sorkness is fighting an endless battle with the institution which has a duty is to protect her.

"For my family, the Vietnam War is not over," said Sorkness.

The widow of a Vietnam War veteran, Sorkness' life unraveled in 1987 when her husband, James Caldon was diagnosed with cancer as a result of exposure to Agent Orange.

"Our all American dream which we were living at the time completely stopped with one word, lymphoma," said Sorkness.

The mother of three children, who at the time were all under 6 years old, watched her husband's mind and body deteriorate. Caldon's war ended when he died in 1996. But his wife's had only just begun.

"I went to 2nd street to the VA's office and filed for benefits and was told that a person he was living with at the time had already filed for my benefits," said Sorkness.

That woman falsified a divorce document between the couple and created a fake marriage license to submit to the VA. The VA granted that woman benefits.Sorkness pleaded with the VA for help.

"Their immediate response to me was it's not our problem," said Sorkness.

For more than two decades, Sorkness worked full time, raised her three children on a limited income and continued her fight with the VA.

Despite the state court nullifying the fake marriage, Sorkness still has not received a penny in spousal benefits from the VA.

"I did have to end up filing bankruptcy in 2011 and i lost my second home to foreclosure," said Sorkness.

Over the 22 years, Sorkness has filed eight appeals with the VA. 

"I've heard that one more document 60 more days for 21 years," said Sorkness.

In 2017, Sorkness spoke to congress about her experience. She even wrote a book with a title all too real for other vets battling the VA.

"Stall deny and hope they die," said Sorkness.

But Denise, very much a soldier in her own right, says she's not going anywhere.

"I used to pray for someone to stand up and speak out for other veterans and their families and then I realized i am someone," said Sorkness.

We reached out to the VA about this case. They tell us they're doing everything they can to get the problem resolved.

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