PORTLAND, Ore. -- President Obama is promising to fix what's wrong with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ medical system following allegations some veterans died while waiting for care on a secret waiting list. He says the White House is committed to investigating those problems and reforming the bureaucratic mess making veterans wait for care. Twenty-six facilities nationwide are now being inspected.
So far no local VA facilities have been named in the nationwide investigation, but there are still big problems here for veterans seeking care.
“People don't want to see that. People don't want to hear about it,” said Terran Schatz, who believes the care he's received from the Department of Veterans Affairs has been inadequate.
"I definitely need more help than they're giving,” Schatz said.
The Army National Guard veteran was wounded in the Iraq War in 2004 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.
“I woke up a couple minutes later on the floor of the Humvee to my sergeant yelling at me,” Schatz said. “We had other people that were bleeding."
Schatz says he suffers from severe back and shoulder pain.
“There's separation, there's tearing,” he said. “There's just a constant pain."
Schatz has also had to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and the fallout from a traumatic brain injury.
“My memory's been slipping,” Schatz said. “It's getting harder to fit in, to remain normal. You have to put a face on every day."
Schatz says surgery and other treatments recommended by medical care providers have never been scheduled. He worries the VA is giving him the runaround and waiting for him to give up.
“I've just kind of learned to be helpless,” Schatz admitted. “That's kind of the way the VA makes it. I get it. There's too many of us."
In the Portland area, the Center for Investigative Reporting says right now 9,622 veterans are waiting for a response to a disability claim. Just over 5,000 of them are considered backlogged, meaning they've been waiting for four months or more. The average wait time is around 158 days.
“The treatment is poor for people who are fighting for our country,” Schatz said. “I just feel like there should be better alternatives than dusting them under the rug."
A local VA spokesman told KATU’s On Your Side Investigators he couldn't address Schatz's condition directly because of medical law, but he asked KATU to give Schatz his phone number to see if he could help him. KATU did share that information. Schatz said he's going to contact the spokesman, and KATU will follow up to see if it helps.