WALLA WALLA -- At Monday's listening session with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and her staff for area veterans, a number of people espoused gratitude for the The Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center.
Even more, however, expressed frustration about glitches in the VA heath care system that have prevented them from getting optimum treatment for health problems.
Travis Wilder has seen that up close and personal, he told the wall-to-wall crowd at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 992.
Wilder, 40, served as a tank turret mechanic for more than seven years, he said later. It was his turn and his duty to continue a family legacy of military service he said began in the Revolutionary War.
He was discharged two years ago. This spring, a health screening over the phone by the Walla Walla VA misdiagnosed as gastrointestinal issues a health problem that turned out to be colon cancer, said the father of three. However, that did not come to light until he sought medical help outside the VA circle.
Now he cannot get the VA to pick up the tab for the medical costs he has incurred for treatment, he added.
His message to Murray on Monday reflected his belief if a soldier is forced to get civilian professional help, "it should not be that hard for the VA to pick up the bills."
His own medical bills are now going to collections, "which puts a lot of stress on the family," Wilder said.