12 OYS: Vet waits 9 months for appointment; VA audit reveals scheduling issues

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News 12 at 6 o'clock / June 10, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The federal audit is the smoking gun. For nearly a year, News 12 has investigated and reported on veterans who have told us their care has been excessively delayed.

Richard Lapine is just one of those veterans. Lapine suffers from stage three chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). He said the lung disease is gradually killing him.

"This is just going to get worse, and worse, and worse. There's no cure for it," Lapine said.

The Navy veteran said without an oxygen unit, but has to see his doctor first.

Lapine said he has tried for months now to schedule an appointment at Augusta's Charlie Norwood VA Hospital. Lapine said until he gets one, he has to use multiple inhalers every day, and that is still not enough.

Lapine is not the only veteran on standby. A federal audit has found more than 130 newly enrolled patients at Augusta's VA hospital who requested appointments in the last 10 years, were never scheduled. The report said scheduling issues at the hospital will require further review.

"There's a lot of guys out there that did more than I did, and they're not getting the right treatment," Lapine said.

While he is hopeful to get the oxygen unit he needs to maintain some quality of life, he is praying he will be around long enough to see his faith in the VA renewed.

"I hope for the VA that they get it together and not let what's going on now happen again," Lapine said.

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