Vietnam veteran Dan Dominey has been in pain for months because, he said, the VA hospital in Phoenix delayed his care. The 66-year-old former Marine fell and broke his back in December.
Dominey, of Mesa, Arizona, said he had been using the VA for healthcare for about eight years, and he thought the service had been fine. But he never suffered any serious injuries or illnesses until now.
"They've never been quick about getting me an appointment. But then again, I never needed anything right away until this back situation happened," Dominey said.
At first, the self-employed welder didn't know how serious the injury was, so he kept working, suffering through the pain.
He finally went to the VA hospital in Phoenix in January, about a month after the accident.
At the clinic, VA doctors first performed X-rays, then weeks later an MRI, and nearly a month later a bone scan.
Dominey said he was eventually referred mistakenly by the VA to a private neurologist, and he finally got an appointment with an outside neurosurgeon. By the time the VA had scheduled him for surgery, it was already mid-May, nearly six months after the injury.
What Dominey heard next was disheartening. He said the doctor shook his head in frustration and told him the procedure likely wouldn't work now because it had been too long since the injury.
The wound should heal on its own, he was told, but it could be another year with constant pain and medication.
"I could have avoided months of pain," Dominey said.