NEW YORK (MainStreet) The Veterans Administration admitted that soldiers who've served their country have died from delays in medical care across the country at VA Hospitals.
Reportedly, 23 veterans have passed away just from delays in gastrointestinal units but the number of dead and injured is likely much higher.
"There have been numerous incidents across the country at VA Hospitals and no one has been held accountable," said Roscoe Butler, assistant director for health care with the The American Legion in Washington, D.C. "We need new leadership to lead VA Hospitals and ensure that veterans are getting the care they deserve and are not harmed."
Currently, VA investigators are on the ground in Augusta, Georgia and San Antonio, Texas, where my own veteran father, James Fairley, is supposed to receive medical care.
Contrary to popular belief, the negligent medical care of veterans such as my father is not a funding issue.
"Every year the VA submits a budget to Congress and Congress has given the VA every dollar they requested and beyond," Butler told MainStreeT. "Congress has made it clear that if this is not enough all you have to do is ask."
My personal experience with the Audie Murphy Veterans Hospital in San Antonio has been disappointing. Complaints to supervisors, the captain of social work and the Patient Advocacy office yielded no results at all.
It wasn't until I hired an attorney that a VA dentist agreed to stop pulling my fathers teeth and instead fill 12 cavities, and the dentist still refuses to order a low sugar diet.
Most recently on May 6, my father's VA primary care physician failed to refer him for stomach and esophagus testing despite the fact that he's lost sixteen pounds and has a distended stomach that makes him look six months pregnant.
The same thing goes for his COPD, which like his stomach, hasn't been monitored by specialists for a very long time.
After 22 years of service in the United States Air Force and an honorable discharge, certainly my father and all other veterans deserve better care than this.
"This may have been an issue prior to the Obama Administration but not as large a problem as it is now and it's gotten worse," Butler said. "It came to our attention in 2010 that employees are gaming the system, not using the system correctly and cooking the books, and now it's 2014 and apparently nothing has been done."
If you are a veteran or know of one whose medical care is being delayed or denied, contact the VA's Office of Inspector General immediately at 1 (800) 488-8244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The American Legion System Worth Saving Task Force also handles complaints. Visit www.Legion.org to access the share your story link or call the Washington office directly at (202) 861-2700.
--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet