Local Vietnam veteran shares his struggle with treatment at VA

Local Vietnam veteran shares his struggle with treatment at VA »Play Video
Glen Jones speaks to KATU's Valerie Hurst Friday, May 30, 2014 outside his Northeast Portland home about his struggles to get health care from Veterans Affairs.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A local Vietnam veteran emailed us right after President Barack Obama announced Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation.

He wanted to share his story about the VA. When we pulled up to Glen Jones's Northeast Portland home, we found him hard at work mowing the lawn, trying to get the job done on a nice sunny day before he goes in for knee surgery.

Glen's using private insurance at Providence hospital for that surgery. He would've gone through the Veterans Association, but says doctors there told him he wasn't a candidate for knee surgery. It's just one of his complaints about the VA.

"I was in Vietnam in 1962, 17-year-old kid," he told us.

Jones installed radios in the villages so soldiers could call for help during times of attack. He saw some of those attacks.

"Some of our security guards ... They weren't even 100 clicks out of the village, the Viet Cong blew them up with a landmine," he told us.

Jones came back with hearing problems after "riding around in the helicopters and being in the artillery." But he went without hearing aids for 30 years.

"Even though I had a letter saying I had a hearing loss from Vietnam, they wouldn't acknowledge it -- the VA wouldn't acknowledge it," he told us.

Jones didn't want to spend the money to buy the hearing aids, knowing the VA could provide them for free. So he filed more claims and finally got the aids.

That wasn't the end of his health problems. The government determined Agent Orange used in those villages had long-term effects on our soldiers.

"I've had surgery for prostate cancer and also had a heart attack and open heart surgery," said Jones.

He had to file a lot of paperwork to get that addressed too.

"It's a lack of communication, and there's so many veterans that do have claims in," he told us.

Jones hopes the result of the VA scandal will be improvement in services here in Oregon, so he can focus more on retirement, rather than on claims. Jones said he has more claims to file through the VA but he's taking his time getting around to it because the process takes so long.