PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Internal investigations by the Inspector General and VA have concluded that supervisors pressured VA officials to make it appear that veterans were receiving care within 14 days to help hospital administrators to receive bonuses and promotions.
In reality, veterans at hospitals throughout the country were waiting months to see doctors. A veteran from Pascagoula says he has been fighting the VA for 16 years.
Darren DeFlanders is a decorated veteran who was a member of the United States Army from 1989 through 1996. He served in the first Gulf War in 1991.
"I received three Bronze Stars, the National Defense Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Liberation of Saudi Forces Medal and the Liberation of Kuwati Forces Medal," said DeFlanders.
While fighting in the Middle East, DeFlanders says he nearly died after he fell.
"While in the military, after combat, I started using drugs," stated DeFlanders. "I started drinking heavy."
DeFlanders says he's been clean for seven years but suffers from PTSD because of his military service. He says the VA will not recognize that he has the brain disease.
"I have two psychiatrists who have diagnosed me with this illness, which is a brain injury, and that claim is still being denied," said DeFlanders.
He's been fighting the VA for 16 years even though he was prescribed a drug to treat PTSD symptoms.
"In 1999, records will indicate I took Resperidone. That is a medication that they give veterans for PTSD," said DeFlanders.
DeFlanders says that drug left him with a serious side effect.
"I grew a female breast on my left chest area. That tissue was removed on May 27, 2014," said DeFlanders.
That treatment took place at Keesler Air Force Base.
"Now that I have just lost my breast, what's the next...I mean, am I going to die of cancer?" said DeFlanders.
In 2008, DeFlanders says he had surgery on his left knee. You can see the scar that was left following surgery, but the VA says it was his right knee and there is no scar.
"In three different days on three different dates, the doctor that did the surgery said he did surgery on my right knee. I produced evidence to the Board of Veteran Appeals showing that I had surgery on my left knee," said DeFlanders.
In 2013, DeFlanders had his case heard before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, but his case was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
"So I'm exhausted for reaching out trying to get some help," DeFlanders said.
I contacted Jerron Barnett, Public Affairs Specialist with the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System, to get the VA's response to this veteran's story.
He emailed me saying because of privacy concerns, he cannot comment specifically on those being treated by the VA.
"We highly encourage veterans who are enrolled and receiving care with the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System to contact their Patient Aligned Care Team or our patient advocates in cases where...they have concerns about their care," Barnett went on to say. "Our goal is to provide veterans with the care they have earned and deserve. We welcome the opportunity to improve our services to veterans, as customer feedback and satisfaction is vital to our mission."
In the meantime, after we interviewed DeFlanders, Sen. Wicker's office in Gulfport is now looking over DeFlanders' documentation.