Diagnosis brings new VA struggles

Published 12:18 am Saturday, March 26, 2016

Dear Editor,

I write to you again to bring public awareness to the struggles Veterans encounter with health care. Since the implementation of a program called Veterans Choice, approved by Congress, the V.A. system has become a true labyrinth to navigate. Untold millions of dollars have been taken away from the Veteran’s Administration to fund this privately owned service. It causes not only problems for the Veterans but also for the medical staff trying to provide care.

My husband was supposed to have a biopsy back in November but because of being put (without his consent) into Veterans Choice. We could not get any answers, any approval, nothing but an endless runaround. We contacted Martha Roby’s office in Andalusia. In all fairness, I will add, I contacted Sen. Shelby and Sessions, but Ms. Roby is the only one that responded. With her invaluable help and the help of Mr. Michael Simmons, the new director of Veterans at Ft. Rucker. My husband secured an appointment with Dr. Benet in Andalusia when his case was taken back from Veterans Choice and back with the medical staff at Ft. Rucker. But getting the biopsy was a struggle. Finally, approval was given and it showed he had prostate cancer. Then he needed a bone and CAT scan, more delays and more red tape. But again with Ms. Roby’s help, the scans were done.

Now we must try for another scan since the radiologist found spots in his lower right lung. I am glad to report, his bone scan was clear. For now, the recommendation is 42 radiation treatments for the prostate. We will not know about the lung until we can get the other scan. I have no earthly idea when that might be. We will most likely end up fighting to get any of this done because of the bureaucratic morass the V.A. has become.

We hope to be able to get his treatment done in Andalusia, although Emory in Atlanta was recommended. That would involve two straight months staying in Atlanta. We cannot afford that. We are like most of you reading this. He has a job, we have bills to be paid. V.A. is his only insurance since he has never had the option through his job. We have our granddaughters with us, both in school.

Cancer doesn’t touch just the person diagnosed but their whole family. We fight day to day, trying to get through to get what he needs done to stay alive. Why must a U.S. Representative have to intervene every single time before anyone with pay attention? We have heard from an oncology case worker and hopefully, that will mean something. I would like to thank Eugene Birge, Robert Williamson, Greg White and John Givhan for their help and helpful advice.

My husband served proudly in the Navy. He deserves BETTER than this, ALL Veterans deserve better than this. This is a proud man, a good man. I have said this before and will say it again, no person, who has given of their time, their loyalty and some their blood and lives, should be treated like just numbers on a spread sheet, a set of statistics, faceless, voiceless. These are living, breathing people with lives and families. I would give a great deal to be given a chance to go before Congress and tell them exactly what I think of Veterans Choice. Do not let out Veterans be shuffled to the side or put off. They gave to their Country and their Country OWES them to give back with proper health care and the common courtesy due to any human being.


Marsha Phillips