My husband served four tours in Viet Nam. In 2002, he was diagnosed with diabetes that he may have contracted from exposure to Agent Orange. For reasons too convoluted to go into, he turned to the VA for health care early in 2007. After six months, his diabetes worsened so his physician at Zeblocki VA Hospital in Milwaukee referred him to one of their Internists. In January 2008, my husband’s blood sugar tests started running around 290-300 (normal is 80-120). He called his Internist and was given an appointment for MARCH 26TH! In the meantime, we waited for the Internist to call back with an insulin adjustment or advice of some kind. A week passed without a reply, so my husband called the Internist again. This time, two weeks passed and his Internist still hadn’t replied, so my husband called a third time. Finally, my husband gave up and, out of desperation, increased his insulin on his own!
It is now two months later and the Internist still has not gotten back to my husband! After serving our country and serving it well, after risking his life for his country time-and-time-again, HOW DARE the VA Internist ignore him like this? Every day, week, month his diabetes is out of control, it is silently doing damage to his kidneys, eyes, heart, feet and nerves. Out of desperation and frustration, we contacted my husband’s previous non-VA doctor for help and luckily got in to see him that very day. “Doc” immediately made adjustments and ran a battery of blood and urine tests.( Of course, we pay out-of-pocket for doctor visits and lab tests in addition to paying $24 for each medicine the VA prescribes.) He called us THE NEXT DAY to report “proteinuria” which means that my husband’s kidneys are now distressed. Doc said it is imperative to get my husband’s blood sugar down to prevent irreversible damage. Thanks, VA, for hurting instead of helping! What a wretched excuse for health care!
Bob, your report on roach-infested conditions at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. struck a loud chord with me. Something has to be done to provide our veterans with better healthcare. I think you should do an in-depth report on VA healthcare facilities AND their physicians. Maybe that will light a fire under the President's Commission on Care for American's Returning Wounded Warriors!
My best wishes to you and your family. You all are an inspiring example of love and determination.