Life after war, local vets speak out about the broken VA care system

YUMA, Ariz. – “It just kind of creeps up on somebody, you just know that you have it until you just go crazy and you just need the help.” said Jason Kodz, who’s been in the Marine Corps for four years.

Less than one percent of Americans are veterans, who fight for our lives. Most leave the war behind and are welcomed with open arms, but some have to live with the life-long terror of post traumatic stress disorder and other mental and physical illnesses.

Bob Carey who served in the U.S. Navy said, “What are these WW2 veterans suppose to do? And these Koreans [War veterans] are in their 70s getting there. You know, it’s hard for these people to do that and if it wasn’t for the legion the AMVETS to help them do that they don’t care.”

They can no longer identify the difference between combat zone and home. Now, everything is a combat zone. Veterans continue to say that wait times to get seen by a VA clinic are a serious problem and the VA would rather prescribe veterans drugs than evaluate and treat their patients properly.

Kodz adds, “I think a lot of that goes to the VA than just drug people up, giving them 13 types of drugs that actually make them worse instead of giving them the help that they need.”

VA primary care physician in Tucson says their number one priority is patient care.

Anthony Stazzone who’s the Chief of Primary Care and Physician at the VA Clinic in Tuscon adds, “As a physician my first rule of thumb is do no harm, and second rule of thumb is to heal the impossible and to comfort always. As a physician that’s my oath and taking that to the veterans means a lot to me.”

Stazzone says they’re working on improving the system for their patients.

He adds, “The biggest improvements we’re looking at are access for our veterans and ways we to get access better. We have lots of modalities for them we have face to face visits, we have increased telephone visits where the physicians can call them. We’ve also increased post hospital follow up into the clinic.”

Kodz says many of these veterans can barely walk, let alone make their way to Tucson for treatment.

Kodz said, “They’re a lot older. A lot of them aren’t even mobile. They’re either in wheel chairs or they have walkers and canes, so it’s hard for them to get around. Let alone go all the way to Tucson to see a doctor.”

Te Brown whose husband is currently in a VA hospital in Tucson has been care-giving for her husband for the past 30 years.

Brown says, “This is a 24/7 caring. He makes one sound and you think there’s something wrong, he can’t breathe. You know? If he needs help or is choking on something it’s just constantly being with him for 24/7.”

Brown says her husband sleeps in the living room in his lounge chair while she sleeps in the bedroom next to her phone just in case he needs anything.

Brown adds, “It’s tough, you’re up like every hour getting up making sure they’re OK. It’s like a child when they’re quiet it’s like something is wrong.”

Many veterans would like more VA clinics nearby and this has become a major concern around the veteran community. However, one thing Brown mentions is that the Tucson clinic has been taking care of him although the trip is inconvenient in order to get seen.

Brown says, “Recently they’ve been having some problems. I don’t know why, because we use to have our care here and people use to come here and give them a blood test and now we have to go to Tuscon and that’s quite a way.”

Even though Brown herself doesn’t have the greatest health and could use some help when it comes to being a care-giver. She talks about the love she has for her husband being deeper than the ocean and would do it all over again.

Brown said, “It’s just something that comes automatic when you love somebody. Like I said, I’ll do it until the day I die.”

About The Author

Related posts