I am a 100 percent service connected disabled Marine Veteran of South Vietnam. I am positive that every one of you has heard of the Veterans Administration and all of the problems that our veterans go through just to get a ruling on their disability. The way that our Veterans are treated after that is where the problem occurs.
I read a letter recently here on the ninth and I am about as upset as I can be. The writer, Art Piatt, was very complimentary to the VA. He mentioned waiting six months for a claim about being poisoned by the water while serving at Camp Legeune in 1968. He doesn't think that a six month wait is too long. Maybe he can find a Marine with a 100 percent disability to switch wait times with.
He mentioned a couple of those who take care of those who need help. He had an urgent medical problem and without more than 30 minutes of wait time was seen and taken care of. He said that this happened this past week.
Well, Mr. Piatt, I too had reason to go to the VA clinic for a major medical problem on the fourth. The problem was an open fracture of my right thumb. I asked for someone to look at it, change the bandage, (it was bleeding rather badly) and get me an appointment with the hand clinic in Pittsburgh.
I had to go through the check-in nurse twice and had to explain to her the problem. She is not to blame as she was only following orders. Finally, a nurse called me back into the hallway and told me there was nothing they could do for me. I again told her the problem, only then did she consent to take a look at the open fracture, not in an exam room but in her office.
She unwrapped the thumb, cleaned it a little and rebandaged it. Then a doctor came into the office and spent 20 minutes yelling at me and my wife for coming there when there was nothing that they could do for me. That included an appointment with the hand specialist. She informed me that I would have to go to the emergency room in Pittsburgh.
To say that the treatment I received from St. Clairsville Clinic was the same service that I would have gotten at another hospital would be an outright lie. I had been to the Barnesville Hospital emergency room within 15 minutes of the accident. They cleaned the fracture, took x-rays, put in around 10 stitches, trimmed the thumbnail, and made an appointment with a doctor to see me on the ninth.
They left it up to me as to what I wanted to do, since my coverage is with the VA and a private doctor will not accept their payment. Long story short, I went to the emergency room in Pittsburgh and after refusing to answer questions as to whether or not I had any weapons on me, they called security and three armed guards showed up and demanded that I answer. I politely refused and they threatened to search me. I replied if they did that,
I would sue everybody in Pittsburgh. The head of security finally told them there was nothing that could be done. They also threatened to withhold treatment. My wife was terrified by all of this but I finally got treatment and have an appointment Wednesday morning with the hand clinic.
So thank you, Mr. Piatt, for your attempt to sugarcoat the treatment from the VA. Too bad it doesn't work.
Louie J. Michelli