Hello. My name is Paul. I am 58 and I served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the '70's. In 1977, while on active duty, I was injured and broke my right femur. I was stationed at Parris Island and was brought to the Beaufort Naval Hospital. At that time, they did a surgery to insert a 42 cm rod inside the femur. To do this, they did a surgery on my right hip in order to drill a hole in the top of the bone and they also did a surgery on the side of my right leg in order to make sure that the bone was set properly. I was released from active duty on schedule and honorably discharged, not for medical reasons. In late August, 1978, the V.A. Hospital in Providence, RI, did a surgery to remove the rod from my femur. This required them to make an incision on my hip in order to put a hook into a hole in the top of the rod so that they could tap it out. After the surgery, the incision became infected and I was in the hospital for several days.
After that, I lived a fairly normal life. I went to college and graduated with two degrees, one in computer science and the other in accounting. From high school I was always very athletic and I continued to participate in athletics during and after the Marines. There were no issues. I worked in computer programming until 1997 and then went into the mortgage business for roughly 10 years. I moved to northern Kentucky, right across the river from downtown Cincinnati, OH, almost 13 years ago, mid-February, 2002.
But, about 12 years ago, I started having some pain in my right hip and a friend of mine noticed that I was limping even though I hadn't noticed it. So, I went to the V.A. Hospital in 2003 and the doctors told me about something called "tissue ossification", which is soft tissue close to an injury that turns into bone. They did an X-Ray and told me that on the top of the femur bone, where the hole had been drilled, there was some extra bone growing, almost like a knuckle sticking up. And, free-floating in the flesh near the bone was additional bone growing. They told me at that time that there was no surgery that could be done to improve it and said, in fact, that if they did a surgery, it would only make things worse. That was back in 2003.
I was still somewhat athletic and active. I wasn't running, but I was still working out at a gym and keeping myself in decent shape. I had bowled during the '80's and into the '90's and from my 4th year, where I averaged 207, I maintained an average over 200 the rest of the time. After I moved here, I started shooting pool and began shooting in tournaments within a year after I started.
But, severe problems began in early August of 2010. Whereas the pain had been manageable and I could sleep, now the pain increased whenever I sat or when I laid down to sleep at night. Over the course of the next 3 months the pain increased dramatically. Also, my ability to walk was reduced to almost zero because my hip would swell up and the pain would become unbearable. By the end of October, 2010, the pain was such that I couldn't sleep more than an hour on any given night and I only did sleep because of exhaustion. But, the pain would wake me up. Because of not sleeping and not being able to walk, my health suffered dramatically. Whereas I was a "young" 50, I became a crippled 55. I began having chest pains in the first week of 2012 and I went to the V.A. Hospital here in Cincinnati. After 5 days, they determined that I had no trouble with my heart and they discharged me. The chest pains did not diminish for 5 months, near the end of May, 2012.
In early March of 2011, I started a petition to have my disability increased. I could barely walk. I hadn't slept more than an hour in months and had many completely sleepless nights because of the pain. They sent a letter for me to come to the V.A. Hospital on the 24th of March for an examination. Dr. Wyeth, who is no longer doing examinations for the VA and who may not even be employed by the VA because of her very questionable practices, did the examination. During the examination she literally pulled a string from her lab-coat pocket to measure my right leg versus my left leg. Then she held the string in front of me to show me and said, "See, they're both the same length". I asked her what that had to do with my right hip and she patted me on my shoulder and said, "Don't worry, I'm on your side". On June 30th, 2011, I received a denial letter from the Veterans Affairs regional office in Louisville, Kentucky. In the letter explaining why it was denied, they wrote, "You can walk at least a mile and you can stand for a couple of hours". I could do neither. In fact, there are many employees at the V.A. Hospital who knew that I was not able to do either of those things, from first-hand knowledge. The letter also stated "You were not able to get your hip into proper position for either external or internal rotation to be tested for range of motion." It fails to explain that I couldn't lay flat on the exam table because of extreme pain.
On the day after Thanksgiving, 2011, I met with Roger Mente, who was the Senior Benefits Officer at the V.A. Hospital in Cincinnati, and started an appeal of their decision.
How could I not be more disabled than I was 9 years previously, when I could walk very well, when I was in great shape, when I could work out at a gym, and when I could sleep at night? And, how can they state that "you can walk at least a mile and you can stand for a couple of hours"? Where did they get this information? So, I was told that my appeal could take anywhere from 9 or 10 months to a year. I received the next denial letter in September, 2012. I appealed that decision in November, 2012.
Within a few weeks, I was sent a letter explaining that my appeal was sent in late, after the deadline. They put the date 3 weeks after the actual date that it was sent. It was sent by registered mail and it was also faxed, by an attorney I had retained to help with the process. I had the PROOF that they were lying and I forced them to reconsider that proof that they were lying, since I also had the signature of the Veterans Affairs employee in Louisville who had signed for the registered letter.
Does this sound like a CONSPIRACY to you? Because that's what it sounds like to me.
I haven't worked in almost 3 years, since I was hospitalized with chest pains. I still can't sleep well and I still can't walk without my hip swelling and causing terrible pain. Other physical issues have cropped up during this time, issues that wouldn't have if my health weren't so adversely affected by severe pain, especially when I'm sitting or laying down, and by a lack of sleep.
I've called Washington, DC, to their headquarters to see if there's anyone who can do something about this. There isn't. There is NO PERSON at the Veterans Affairs who will take the responsibility of looking into this matter HONESTLY and make the decision to have the Veterans Affairs act according to their RESPONSIBILITY. When I signed a paper saying that I was "willing to die" to protect my country, the Veterans Affairs has basically said, "Go ahead and die. We won't have to pay you a dime and we'll look like heroes for saving money." If they deny this, they're outright lying.
On May 28, 2012, I became homeless and lost most of what I had owned that had any value. I became a resident at the Volunteers of America Veterans Resource Center in Mt. Healthy, Ohio, on May 30, 2012. I remained their for 15 months, until September 1, 2013, when I moved back to Kentucky.
I served my country honorably. I went to college, got my degrees, and went to work, like a good American. I got into no legal trouble in my entire life, like a good American. I committed no crimes, ever, like a good American. This is how the Veterans Affairs treats a good American?
I created a Yahoo email address for the purpose of writing this, firstname.lastname@example.org. I can provide evidence that proves everything I've stated is true, 100% true. There is no exaggeration in anything I've posted.
Considering how they've treated me and what I've suffered, I wonder how many veterans who have suffered in a similar way. I wonder how many veterans have committed suicide because of similar treatment by the Veterans Affairs.
I wonder if any of the employees who have obeyed the mandate of the Veterans Affairs to "deny, deny, deny" every disability claim, like the worst of health insurance companies, and to "ignore, ignore, ignore" every complaint by the veterans that they are charged with assisting, have any trouble sleeping at night, knowing that the deaths of those same veterans who have committed suicide is THEIR responsibility. There have been days when I was considering suicide. But, I think my anger has kept me from doing it, since my goal is to really bring to light the actions of the Veterans Affairs. I hope they choke on it.
Reason of review: Mistreatment.