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We have seen too many VA system mistakes for far too long

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

Staff Sergeant Bob landed on Iwo Jima February 19, 1945 with the Marines. On the 29th day of bitter fighting he was shot by a Japanese sniper. His only memory was a burning pain from his back to his chest.

As he recalled when he woke, there was a Navy doctor standing nearby. He handed Bob the bullet that was removed from his lung. He carried that reminder on his key chain for many years, until one day he fell and was rushed to the Franklin Hospital by ambulance. His car keys, house key and bullet were never returned to him.

His visits to the Manchester Veterans Hospital were often met with disappointments. When he told the VA doctor that he had lost a lung due to being shot on Iwo Jima, the doctor told him that he was not wounded on Iwo Jima. Bob pulled up his shirt and showed the doctor the entry wound on his back and scar on his chest. The doctor was not impressed. He informed the uncaring medical staff that he had been issued a Purple Heart license plate from the state of New Hampshire and had it on his cars for a long time. This still had little positive response.

Bob and his wife tried to straighten the problem out by going through the administration and sought to resolve the mistake. They found road block after road block until his wife broke down and cried. This aged woman remembered when her fiance came home wounded and now was told it never happened.

Harry served in World War II through Vietnam. He is in his 90s now. One VA appointment he had to wait three hours. Another appointment at Jamaica Planes VA, in Massachusetts he had to wait four hours for his appointment that had previously been scheduled. It is sad that he had to travel such a long distance and wait such a long time for an appointment, only to rescheduled.

My wife and I spoke with a woman who was leaving the VA Hospital in Manchester after 13 yeas. I asked her why after so many she was leaving. “Well! I tried to help the veterans and found records that qualified veterans for a rating, when I brought this up to my supervisor, his response was 'mind your own business'.”

My experience has been mixed. Doctors who were retiring from the system seemed to help me more than those who were stuck in the system. When my wife and I thought I might have cancer and I saw my doctor, she said “we will keep and eye on it.” This went on for over two and a half years. Bizarre to say the least. As it turned out, I did, and survived the blunder.

There are many awesome nurses and medical staff who work for the Veterans Administration. They are dedicated to taking care of our veterans. We have seen too many mistakes for far too long. It was rampant during the last eight years. Hopefully it can be cleaned up. The problem as I see it may be administrators who have no military experience who come and stay, and stay and do nothing but screw up what the VA was originally created to do.

Gene F. Danforth

Danbury