Local veteran on VA hospital: They are waiting on me to croak

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Richard Geddes served in Vietnam for two years stationed with an assault helicopter company. Since returning from war in 1967, he said he has been battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Anxiety Disorder.

"I don't sleep at night. I have nightmares. I've been through three marriages. This year I'm telling on myself, I'm 68 and I think they are just waiting on me to croak," Geddes said.

Geddes said he is constantly fighting to get the treatment he needs at the Biloxi Veterans Hospital.

"I have seen it kind of degrade over the years, especially after Katrina. The past year, I haven't had a primary care doctor," Geddes said. "I went to see a doctor in February and was changed to another clinic, and I haven't seen that doctor yet."

He said he has been forced to pay out of pocket for care for the past three years.

"Thanking me for my service is not enough. Yeah, I served and am proud to serve," Geddes said, "I think they really need to quit shuffling and give up the lip service and more action."

James Corley is also a Vietnam veteran, and as the commander of the VFW Post 2434, he sees the struggle some veterans go through to get care.

"We have two service officers here that deal with helping people with the paperwork, trying to go through the VA," Corley said. "It has been slow."

Corely and Geddes agree, once vets are able to get through the red tape, the care they receive in Biloxi is good.

"I worked out there for 40 years," Corley said. "I know what the VA can do for veterans, and they can do a lot."

"The doctors are doing their job," Geddes said. "But the management level seems like they are holding back, and they don't want to talk about it."

During the next several weeks, a national face-to-face audit will be conducted at every VA Clinic. WLOX reached out to the Biloxi VA who issued this statement from the VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

"At VA, our most important mission is to make sure veterans know VA is here to care for them and to provide the high quality care and benefits they have earned and deserve," Shinseki said.

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