On April 9, The U.S. Veterans Hospice Committee attended a hearing titled “A Continued Assessment of Delays in VA Medical Care and Preventable Veterans Deaths.” The hearing was held by Congressman Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and explored delays in veteran care at VA hospitals, as well as ways to stop preventable deaths.
Barry Coates, a retired military veteran and proud American testified at the hearing regarding a case that unfortunately is becoming all too familiar within the VA. “Mr. Coates was misdiagnosed for over a year and a half,” stated Executive Director Gerald Johnson “A simple colonoscopy could have saved Mr. Coates’ life, but by the time the VA was able to administer the proper medical procedures to Mr. Coates, it was already too late.”
“Barry Coates could have been saved, and it’s a crime that the doctors in the VA weren’t able to properly diagnose his problem,” says Legislative Director Sean Ferritor. “I was blown away by his courage to testify in front of Congress considering what he has been through. This is a man that was misdiagnosed for a year and a half, when a simple colonoscopy could have saved his life,” continued Ferritor, “he had all the symptoms of a man struggling with cancer, but by the time the VA doctors finally administered the colonoscopy, Mr. Coates was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer and given less than a year to live.”
Mr. Coates is a proud American, he served his country and deserved better than how he was treated by the VA. Mr. Coates is a family man with a wife and kids, and testified that what pains him the most now is that he won’t be able to play catch with his son, or watch his daughter walk down the aisle in matrimony. “It was a painful hearing, there were tears from the general public as well as Members of Congress,” Ferritor continued, “something has to be done to correct the way the VA hospitals care for our military veterans.”
Homeless veterans are targeted by criminals and thugs. They are beaten and robbed. John D'Amico, a homeless army veteran, was attacked and severely beaten by a group of teenagers who claimed they simply, "had nothing better to do."
"It is a national disgrace," says Executive Di-rector Gerald Johnson, "that our homeless veterans endure this violence on a regular basis. It is especially tragic that our terminally-ill homeless veterans must constantly live in fear while dealing with the difficulties of their ailment and homelessness."
With our loyal supporters backing them up, our USV's Executive Director, Sgt. Gerald Johnson, USAF (Ret.), and the legislative team will soon meet with the staff of Congressman Walter Jones. "Our hope is to convince Congressman Jones, an ardent supporter and friend of our veterans, that Congress needs to act immediately and expedite the establishment of a National Veterans Hospice Network," explains Assistant Director Owen Thomas.
The data is in from the 2013 National Veterans Support Survey with interesting results (printed in the box below). The nationwide campaign highlights a critical gap in the public’s knowledge of our role and advocacy mission.
The U.S. Veterans Hospice Committee legislative team had a front-row seat at the House Veterans Affairs’ Committee hearing on the effects of the government shutdown, with testimony from Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki earlier this month.
After the hearing, Legislative Director Sean Ferritor had the opportunity to personally thank the Secretary for his thoughtful testimony and exchange a few face-to-face remarks.