Despite recent shake up, vets losing faith in VA

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on May 30, 2014 at 6:19 PM

A long-awaited delivery arrived for Bill Eisaman Friday. It took more than two weeks to get his medicine from the Veteran's Administration. Unfortunately, it wasn't exactly what the doctor ordered.

"This isn't the important stuff," he said. Eisaman's heart medication didn't arrive, leaving him with a one day supply.

"I get a little nervous," he said. "That's not good for somebody with a heart condition."

That is the story of the VA in a bottle -- too little too late.

Eisaman called the VA on May 1st having chest pains. They told the Vietnam vet he could see a doctor -- in 32 days.

"I was just flabbergasted," he said.

Eisaman called 911 and doctors found the main artery to his heart was 90 percent blocked. Three days later he had surgey.

"So, if I had waited until the prescribed time to see them, I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you today. I'd probably be dead," said Eisaman.

At the Puget Sound VA, patients complain of wait times lasting months. At least one patient died while waiting four months for cancer surgery.

"The big problem is there's not enough staff, not enough money," said advocate Randy Winn of Veterans & Friends of Puget Sound.

Despite the replacement of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, Winn doesn't believe much will change.

"People at that level don't make ground level decisions," he said. "They're not doing patient care. It won't really affect middle management where the problem seems to be."   

A spokesman for the Puget Sound VA told KING 5 that "overall wait times are decreasing and as we continue to fill primary care physician positions, wait times will decrease every month."

Meantime, Bill Eisaman is also awaiting treatment for a hernia.

"We're going on 730 days," he laughs.

It would be funny if it wasn't so serious.

But what hurts Eisaman most is a system to treat our sick veterans that appears terminally ill.  "It's just blown up in our face," he said.

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