Army Veteran Speaks Out About Long Wait Times At VA Hospitals


By Catalina Trivino

From Montgomery -- the central Alabama Veterans Health Care system is under investigation on charges of unethical scheduling practices.

It's one of 84 facilities accused of having wait times as long as 51 days. A veteran from Autauga County says he's scared these long waits could cost him his life.

Army Veteran, Robert Fulton, says he's frustrated because his wait time is far beyond the 14-day window veterans are supposed to be seen by a doctor.

He says he's waited for months to get an appointment -- and recently there's an even bigger hurry. He says doctors have told him he may have an illness that could change his life.

Robert Fulton served in the Army from 1971 to 1974. He says while he was at basic training, a hand grenade exploded near his face, leaving him deaf in his right ear.

But he says that's nothing compared to the most recent news he's gotten from VA doctors.

"Finally ive gotten an appointment with them to verify one way or another... But my mind is on it all the time about whether I got cancer or not -- prostate cancer," Said Fulton.

Fulton says doctors told him on April 12 he could have prostate cancer. And that's exactly where he says they left him -- until his next appointment on July 3.

82 days without answers. He says he doesn't have the money to go to another clinic.

"I feel the veterans administration is waiting me out. That's what they're waiting to do... die," Said Fulton.

In the last four months, Fulton says he's had a heart attack, triple by-pass surgery, bronchitis and pneumonia.

Just as his list of health problems have grown longer, he says so did his wait time for an appointment with the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, which has locations in Montgomery and Tuskegee.

"60 or 70 days, two months, two months and a half... they've delayed, they've cancelled, they claim I didn't follow up on it, which is inaccurate," Said Fulton.

But with the federal shake-up at the Department of Veterans Affairs Fulton says he's hopeful that wait times for appointments will get shorter... and possibly, even save his life.

"I think as veterans, we need to be looked at and seen at an appropriate time level, we don't need to wait for an extended period of time because some of us, we're getting up in age and everything and we may not have that time," Said Fulton.

Even when Fulton has had a set appointment, he says he's had to wait anywhere from 1 hour to as long as 9 hours.


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