News 12 at 6 o'clock / April 14, 2014
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Veteran Richard Ray said he wants to know why the VA has discontinued the medication he needs to live.
He admits to having what is called an other-than-honorable discharge. He said it never impacted him receiving benefits from the VA. But all that changed last October when he received a letter in the mail.
"Last October I get a letter I've got a dishonorable discharge, I'm not eligible to receive VA benefits," said Ray. His military records show "conditions other than" or undesirable discharge but not a dishonorable discharge. Ray said he had a drinking problem that ended with military court action.
"Yes I messed up God knows I messed up when I came back," said Ray. Despite his ''other than honorable'' discharge status he said for the past 15 years he has qualified and received VA benefits for his medicines. "I might have another month, month and a half of medicine left. Maybe, if I take one shot a day," said Ray.
According to the VA "to be considered a "veteran" eligible for Department of Veterans' Affairs health care benefits, a former service-member must have been discharged "under conditions other than dishonorable."
The letter Ray received from the Department of Veterans' Affairs says the same thing that he needed to be discharged "under conditions other than dishonorable." So why are his benefits being denied?
"Atlanta is saying my undesirable is a dishonorable," said Ray. He said his patient advocate at Charlie Norwood VA Hospital in Augusta is working with him to appeal the decision from Atlanta's VA Benefits Administration.
"He's been helping me and he even says they are wrong," said Ray.
With a month's supply of insulin left Ray is hoping the VA reverses its decision very soon. "Don't let me run out of insulin please," said Ray.
The Augusta VA said it has been in contact with Ray and has submitted information to the VA Benefits Administration in Atlanta which is currently reviewing Ray's case.
A spokesperson with the Atlanta VA Benefits Administration said it is investigating and would provide News 12 with information as long as it does not violate HIPAA laws.
We are awaiting the agency's response.