When Life Stateside is Tougher Than Iraq: One Young Vet’s Struggle For Proper Health Care (Video)

The veterans’ health benefits scandal that erupted earlier last year exposed a system failing to carry out what it was set up to do.

It began with the media reporting that scores of returning soldiers had died as they waited for proper medical care. From there the scandal grew and public outrage prompted high level investigations, including one by the FBI.

By August, President Obama signed Congressional legislation to further fund and reform of the Veterans Health Administration.

Since then high level health officials involved in the scandal have been fired. In November, the new Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald said that 1,000 of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ 315,000 workers were going to get sacked or face disciplinary action.

McDonald said that he hoped the VA’s reorganization would be done within a year.

But for former Marine Corps machine-gunner, Curtis Shanley, it’s all too late.

Curtis served two tours in Iraq and damaged his back in the process. As explored in the above video report by Vice News, Curtis has been out of the service for five years now but his life has been ruined by debilitating pain and the frustration that comes from that.


Former Marine Curtis Shanley with Vice News reporter Gianna Toboni. (YouTube screenshot)

Former Marine Curtis Shanley with Vice News reporter Gianna Toboni. (YouTube screenshot)

It took him two years back home to get his back properly diagnosed and that was via a doctor outside of the VA system. One of his disks was nearly destroyed, exposing his nerves and causing excruciating pain.

To avoid being hooked on drugs, Curtis refuses to rely on pain killers and sucks up the hurt.

The 29-year-old can’t stand for an hour at a time, let alone work and the worse part of the day is when he has to dress himself.

His girlfriend works three jobs to provide for them both.

Curtis’s story of frustration and suffering is not unique, according to an audit released last year, 57,000 recently returned veterans had to wait over 90 days for care and nearly 64,000 veterans had sought appointments but did not get one.

As we’re now in 2015, let’s hope the vets who served their country get much more than substandard care and that this situation truly improves.

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