The Veterans Affairs Administration still seems to be suffering from a severe lack of efficiency and common sense. In an open letter to the VA, Army Maj. Dennis (DJ) Skelton details how the beleaguered agency has left him without proper nourishment.
Maj. Skelton is sometimes referred to as the “most wounded commander in U.S. military history” because of the various injuries he sustained in combat. These injuries have resulted in Maj. Skelton needing a feeding tube, but the VA will not pay for the liquid food he needs.
In his letter to the VA, Maj. Skelton says, “On Saturday you had me go to the emergency room at my local hospital to place a feeding tube in my stomach because, with my shot-up palate deteriorating, it is getting dangerous again for me to eat or drink through the mouth.”
The situation all started when officials at the VA hospital convinced Maj. Skelton to change to Diabetisource after his surgery. The only issue with this recommendation that the VA made is that Diabetisource is not covered by the VA. To understand how expensive this ‘mistake’ is, a case of 24 units of Diabetisource costs $95.99.
Maj. Skelton continued stating in his letter, “So today, six days’ post-surgery, I received a letter from you informing me that the brand you recommended to me, Diabetisource, is actually not covered by the VA and I need to go find and pay for my own feeding tube liquid on my own.” Eventually, the secretary of the VA’s office called Maj. Skelton asking if the VA was responsible for his current predicament, and Maj. Skelton answered with an emphatic “yes.” For now, Maj. Skelton has been using a turkey baster so he can get nourishment.
Surprisingly, Maj. Skelton has remained positive during his ordeal, stating, “we don’t need to use my case to shed light on everything that is wrong with the system. Just throw one or two problems at me at a time, OK? Thank you.” Presently, it has not been reported if Maj. Skelton has convinced the VA to pay for the brand of liquid food which was recommended to him.
Prior to President Trump being elected, the VA was a poster child of government red tape and inefficiency, and it seems with Maj. Skelton’s case that there is still a lot of room for improvement. Three years ago, under the Obama Administration, the VA was exposed for allowing veterans to wait for doctor’s and proper treatment, to the extent that some veterans died who might otherwise be alive. The scandal and fallout was so bad that then VA Secretary Eric Shinseki had to resign, and Congress passed a comprehensive reform package for the VA.
Maj. Skelton graduated from the United States Military Academy in 2003, was then stationed in Ft. Lewis and the commander of a Stryker Platoon, and in 2004 was deployed to Iraq where he wound up fighting in the second battle of Fallujah. Later on in this deployment Maj. Skelton was seriously wounded by an RPG and several small arms rounds. Thankfully, a fellow soldier kept Maj. Skelton alive by performing a field tracheotomy using a spent .50 caliber shell.
Since sustaining these serious injuries Maj. Skelton has dedicated himself to helping fellow veterans with his non-profit organization Paradox Sports, which “provides inspiration, opportunities, and adaptive equipment to the disabled community, empowering their pursuit of a life of excellence.”
According to Maj. Skelton’s biography on the Paradox Sports web site, “Since his recovery at Walter Reed, DJ dedicated himself to advancing the causes of wounded vets, authoring Our Hero Handbook, a comprehensive guide to assist wounded service members and their families in their recovery and rehabilitation. DJ also served as a military advisor to Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England on veterans’ affairs and care for wounded service members. DJ returned to Monterey, CA in 2008 to command Echo Company of the 229th MI BN at DLIFLC. He was also the Associate Dean for the Middle East School. He returned to the Pentagon in 2010 to serve as a Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ADM Mike Mullen, advising on veteran transition issues, wounded warrior policy and improving services to military families. DJ also served as a Non-Resident Military Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, leading the “silent wounds” project on post-traumatic growth for the center.”
Hopefully, with Maj. Skelton’s influence in the Veteran community, he can work with President Trump to fix his situation and that of other veterans who continue to battle the red tape within the VA medical system.
H/T [American Military News]