Local Veteran Opens Up About V.A. Wait

Posted at: 05/31/2014 6:46 AM

Photo: Photo: KSTP

(KSTP) - A Veterans Affairs audit cites a failure of VA leadership for widespread problems with the health care system for veterans and the apparent cover-up of scheduling delays.

Now, we're hearing from one Minnesota veteran who says he's also experienced a long wait time for care.

"I'm angry, and I feel let down by my country," said Sgt. Jon McCracken, who has served in the United States Army for eight years.

He was medically discharged in 1994. He is frustrated as he is expecting he'll have to have surgery after blowing out his knee. MCCracken said he’ll likely have to pay $7,000 out of pocket.

One month ago, McCracken says he injured his knee, after doing yoga at a VA facility. "I've gone to the nurses, I've gone to my doctor, I've gone to the patient representative I’ve gone to the director of the hospital."

But he can't get in for an initial orthopedic surgeon at the VA, until two weeks from now.

"They need to make some good decisions about the wait time," McCracken said. "These are people. They're individuals who served the United States government and the government is saying, 'Well, you can wait a while'."

Unable to wait through the pain, McCracken made an appointment with a non-VA provider, for Monday. He says the VA won't pay for that, or surgery.

"The hard line, the lack of compassion and the lack of understanding you know, I hit a brick wall everywhere I went," McCracken said.

A spokesperson for the VA won't comment on McCracken's specific case because he hasn't signed a medical release. The spokesperson did explain wait times are within the metrics and 'fee basis' services, or paying for care at non-VA facilities, are allowed case-by-case. The VA spokesperson said if vets are experiencing some kind of urgent medical situation, they should get to the VA's emergency department right away. They don't usually classify orthopedic injuries as life-threatening.

McCracken says he did go to the ER but he is still in a lot of pain, despite the four medications he's on to help.