Veteran says VA system gave up on him - 8 News NOW

Veteran says VA system gave up on him

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Vietnam veteran Jeff Beck Vietnam veteran Jeff Beck

LAS VEGAS -- The southern Nevada Veterans Affairs health system has its own share of complaints. On Thursday, Democratic Congresswoman Dina Titus asked for our facilities to be added to the list being investigated.

Long waits to see a specialty physician and to get into the emergency room are some of the most common claims here.

It is different depending on who is telling the story. Some veterans are frustrated and angry after waiting months to see a doctor. Others are happy with their services.

One man says he was relatively happy with the VA system, until he says it gave up on him and his condition.

Vietnam veteran Jeff Beck was all smiles when 8 News NOW talked to him at the end of 2011. He didn't know it at the time, but his body was already battling leukemia.

On the phone, from a private cancer treatment center in Texas, he tells us he is still fighting

“My immune system is so shot it's basically zero. So, I'm living in a bubble wearing masks and gloves and don't leave this apartment,” Beck said.

Beck paid for a bone marrow transplant with Medicare after being denied by the VA system. Instead, he was prescribed monthly chemotherapy treatment and hospice care.

“In other words, keep me comfortable until I die. I thought this is pretty crazy, let me go look for a second opinion,” Beck said.

The private cancer center took him in immediately, and he got the transplant.

Beck says the VA system has problems worse than secret lists hiding long waits. He says it is more worried about saving money than saving lives.

A spokesperson for the VA says the system does have to look at evidence treatment will be successful before spending tax dollars.

“We have to be able to justify using tax payer money to take care of a particular veteran or issue,” spokesman Richard Beam said.

Beam says there are no secret lists at the VA facilities in southern Nevada, but he says they are working to improve wait times.

Those changes won't help Beck.

“I’m just going to continue to use Medicare and hope that when I sell my house it covers it. That is what this is going to do is turn me homeless and on food stamps,” Beck said.

He says beating cancer will not be the end of his struggle.

Spokesperson Richard Beam says the VA system in southern Nevada has not been told if they are a subject of the national investigation.

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