Letters to the Editor

VA cruelly delays, denies Agent Orange illness claims

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald talks about the state of the Veteran Affairs Department while speaking at a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, Friday, Nov. 6, 2015.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald talks about the state of the Veteran Affairs Department while speaking at a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, Friday, Nov. 6, 2015. AP

As a Vietnam veteran who is being treated for a number of "presumptive illnesses" associated with Agent Orange exposure, I read with interest the article regarding QTC Medical Services's screening process and Rep. Jeff Miller's investigation (Herald, March 31).

Since they are paid by the number of files "processed," it should come as no surprise that the fastest way to get that money is to reject the claim without so much as a cursory review.

My claim has been in the VA's hands for nearly seven years now and has been rejected piecemeal, one for each medical condition, with a final rejection just last month. Apparently, part of the process is to demand more and more proof, as the most frequent correspondence I have gotten from the VA has required further documentation from me.

My DD-214 clearly shows that I was in Vietnam, and that I was in an area where Agent Orange was used. The VA medical centers (I get excellent care here in the Tampa Bay area, I will add) have been treating me for illnesses associated with exposure to those awful chemicals.

The Vietnam Veterans of America office in St. Petersburg took over my case after the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs got nothing done. The VVA hasn't really been able to do anything either, it seems.

Requests for help from Rep. Vern Buchanan's office have been fruitless.

I certainly hope Rep. Miller's investigation is more than window dressing and that the lawsuit mentioned in the article can fix the problem. Like thousands of vets, I truly believe that the VA's real motto is "Delay, Deny, and Wait For Them To Die."

Michael Herring

Bradenton

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