Local Veterans Speak Out on National VA Scandal

MONROE -- Monroe veteran Mike Shaw suffered an injury that changed his life as he was hooking up jets aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise in Vietnam in 1975.

"Crossed two wires, 660 volts of electricity that threw me back. Didn't even know who I was there for a while, Nick," Shaw said.

Thanks to a federal facility, A Veterans Affairs hospital, Shaw said he'll suffer from that injury for the rest of his life.

"The VA did my last surgery and it was a complete failure. I still have an open hole in the top of my left ear and water draining in. The infection's still there," he said.

On Wednesday, the Obama administration announced an investigation into numerous allegations of cooked books and delayed responses at VA hospitals across the country.

"If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful and I will not tolerate it," President Barack Obama said at a national press conference.

Louisiana Veterans Affairs Secretary Rodney Alexander said he shares that frustration.

"We have veterans that have been on waiting lists in Louisiana for up to a year to get medical attention and that's just not fair," he said.

Alexander said Louisiana exceeded $1 billion in VA benefits given last year to local veterans.
If these allegations prove true, Alexander said that funding is at risk.

"If more of that money has to be pumped into the hospitals, then that's going to mean that the pie gets smaller for veteran services that are provided by the state of Louisiana," he said.

Alexander suggests opening up funds for veterans to seek care elsewhere.

"Money that's being spent on veteran health care today ought to just go to that veteran and let that veteran seek medical attention wherever he or she chooses," he said.

Shaw agrees.

He said that's what he does as the founder of Monroe's chapter of Disabled American Veterans.

"Being a Certified Service Officer helping people with their benefits, I send them to private physicians," said Shaw.

President Obama is promising the nation's veterans accountability.

Shaw certainly hopes so.

"It's criminal, what happened. Criminal. If proven guilty, they need to do something about everybody involved," he said.

For more info. on the Monroe DAV chapter, call 318-237-9689.

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