Thursday, July 10, 2014
Secretary of VA Sloan Gibson visits Charlie Norwood VA Center. (WRDW-TV)
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- "People talk bad about the VA, but they always treated me good up until now," said Dorris Blalock. He said he voluntarily signed up to fight for his country in Vietnam, but now has been made to wait more than a year for a signature from the Veterans' Administration for a piece of medical equipment.
"Every time you call, you get the same thing. We're working on it. It's in progress," said Blalock. He had a leg amputated in 2012 after some complications from diabetes and said he wants the Veterans' Administration to stop procrastinating. Blalock's wife, Debra has handled most of her husband's paperwork.
"He's everything. Everything. I would fight for him. I would die for him," said Blalock. She said she has worked tirelessly calling the VA, and even writing letters to lawmakers, hoping to speed up the delay in her husband's claim. She said it has been to no avail.
We're just asking for what they promised him," said Blalock. Frustrated, the Blalock's asked 12 On Your Side to personally deliver a message to VA Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson who was at Augusta's VA. We kept our promise to this veteran. We told Gibson that Blalock wrote us a letter to give to him. Gibson told News 12 he would make sure someone contacted Blalock.
"Somebody will be in touch with him before the sun sets today," said Gibson. This afternoon we went back to the Blalocks. "I got a phone call from a doctor. He said he was given the letter, and he was told to work on our situation," said Debra Blalock.
She said Gibson asked that same doctor to return the letter to him so he can follow the progress of the claims delay. "It shouldn't last that long for a claim of any kind," said Blalock. Now with a reason to be optimistic, this proud veteran is grateful.
"Thank you," said Blalock. He said he has not been able to leave his house in a year, except to go to doctors appointments and that is only by ambulance. The Blalocks told us as soon as they get the word, they will let us know, and of course we will let you know.
The acting VA Secretary was in Augusta Thursday meeting congressional members.
VA Secretary Gibson is in Augusta right now and speaking with News12. He says access to care and getting vets off waiting lists is priority— JeromeWRDW (@JeromeWRDW) July 10, 2014
Secretary Sloan Gibson was at the Charlie Norwood VA hospital Thursday morning after last month's hospital audit.
The hospital was flagged in an audit for reported scheduling issues and more than a decade long wait for appointments for about 130 newly registered veterans. The hospital has also been on the radar after the death of three veterans due to inadequate care.
VA Sec. Sloan Gibson tells News 12, vets on waiting lists should be the administrations's top priority. We are holding him to that tonight— JeromeWRDW (@JeromeWRDW) July 10, 2014
Congressman John Barrow was not able to attend due to commitments in DC.
News 12 personally hands a message from a vet to VA Secretary Gibson who promises to address the problem by sundown. Vet speaks at 6:12.— JeromeWRDW (@JeromeWRDW) July 10, 2014
VA secretary admits trust in the VA has been eroded and it will have to work hard to gain that trust back— JeromeWRDW (@JeromeWRDW) July 10, 2014
Gibson visited the Dorn Center in Columbia on Wednesday.