Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
In light of what happened in the Phoenix VA Hospital and what is happening around the nation, I felt I must tell my story. I am a Vietnam veteran and have several Agent Orange related health issues. In 2007 I had a baseball sized tumor removed from my shoulder at the Mather Airbase Hospital in Sacramento. The surgery went well and I received great care there, but I was advised I would need a complete shoulder replacement surgery. It would have to be performed in Palo Alto, I was told.
Jump ahead to March 2013. I went to Palo Alto’s VA Hospital and did a CT sand and MRI and was immediately prepped for surgery. Then they told me to return the next day (Friday). On Friday I was told to return Monday. They informed me Monday that there was no surgeon available to perform the surgery and sent me home with pain pills and recommended I exercise the shoulder. It was a shoulder that was continually popping out of the socket.
The VA in Palo Alto scheduled an appointment for me in July for the San Francisco VA where I would be examined and put on a waiting list for “possible shoulder replacement” surgery.
I contacted Congressman Jeff Denham’s office in March and met with a staff member on a Friday at the Manteca Chamber of Commerce office. (Denham was unavailable due to the Boston Marathon bombing incident.) Denham sits on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. I met with another member of Denham’s staff assigned to my case on a Tuesday. Thursday night at 6 p.m. a posting appeared on my computer that my shoulder replacement surgery was scheduled in a few weeks and the physician that would perform it at Stanford Hospital had been assigned.
For six years I’ve been dealing with scheduling problems, supposed unavailability of surgeons, lost paperwork necessitating restarting the surgery request over and over again, insufficient medical care (I mean, come on, pain pills and exercise for a shoulder that pops out of socket?)
Anyway, In just six days Congressman Jeff Denham and his able-bodied staff members Wendy Rodman and Mike Anderson cut through all of the bureaucratic red tape and B.S. and accomplished what I could not do.
We veterans are fortunate to have champions such as these fine folks in our corner, fighting for the rights and benefits put veterans deserve.
As a grateful Vietnam veteran I salute them!
Chester W. Pacheco