The Department of Veterans Affairs in Las Vegas recently denied David McKinney-Smith, a dying Vietnam vet, an electric wheelchair (video below).
McKinney-Smith was diagnosed by the VA with cancer, and was told he only had six months to live.
McKinney-Smith believes his cancer was caused from exposure to Agent Orange, a chemical weapon used by the U.S. in Vietnam.
“And if I can't move around, I know that I will die earlier than the five months," McKinney-Smith told KTNV.
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The VA initially approved home hospice care for McKinney-Smith, but then told him that he would have to give up the care to get the wheelchair. He did exactly that, but still got denied a wheelchair.
“The VA double-crossed me," McKinney-Smith told the news station.
However, after a KTNV reporter called the VA, the government suddenly changed its mind and gave McKinney-Smith an electric wheelchair within two days.
“Our entire team out at the VA was kind of taken back by this case," VA Public Affairs Chief Chuck Ramey stated.
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Ramey said that an unidentified VA employee misinterpreted VA policy, and didn’t know about the VA wheelchair loan program.
“So, we're going to go back and look at this and see what we can do to make sure that if this comes up and happens again that we're taking care of our people and our patients accordingly," Ramey added.
Ramey delivered the wheelchair to McKinney-Smith in person.
“This is like heaven now," McKinney-Smith stated. "I can go out and get my sunshine. This feels so good. Wow.”
In September 2015, the VA’s Inspector General reported that there were about 867,000 pending cases as of September 30, 2014. The Inspector General also found, per the Social Security Administration, that more than 307,000 pending cases were people who had died.
Robert McDonald was appointed Secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department in 2014 in an effort by the Obama administration to fix the scandal-plagued agency.
McDonald apologized in 2015 for falsely claiming that he had served in the Special Forces during a conversation with a homeless veteran in Los Angeles, reported The New York Times.