As we continue to hear about allegations of understaffed and poorly run VA hospitals nationwide, one local man says his father died because of negligence by a VA clinic in Greenville.
On Monday, Chris Kenney looked through old photos and talked about his late father, James Kenney. Chris said his father served in the Vietnam War.
"He was a good person. He never did harm to anybody," said Chris. "All he did was love his family and try to get help from the VA, and they put him on the back burner."
Chris said his father was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in 2000 after being exposed to Agent Orange while overseas.
"He's so sick he can't swallow. He can't eat. He cant do anything," Chris recalled. "Right here he's begging the VA to help him."
Chris said his father sent countless letters and called the Greenville VA clinic asking to see a doctor. He shared with us a formal complaint that read, in part, "The only thing I want is to get rid of this pain, and no one seems to really care."
While Chris said his father did receive medication for his leukemia, his condition worsened and he wasn't able to get an appointment to see a doctor. Chris said his father was told to up his doses of Tylenol.
"The VA basically tells him either go to the emergency room which he couldn't afford, or go to Durham to the ER there, which he was too sick he couldn't drive."
Chris said his father contacted Representative Walter Jones' office to set up an appointment with a radiologist. In June 2009, James was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer. Six months later he passed away.
"I lost my dad because the VA didn't care and I firmly believe that," Chris told WITN. "20 years in the military, I'm not afraid to say it."
The VA says it is looking into the allegations made by Kenney and his family.
"We continually seek ways to improve service delivery to the men and women who have served our nation and as we move forward, we will keep the interests of Veterans foremost in mind, working to provide them the very best in health care, benefits, and services," said spokesperson Peter Tillman in a written statement.
Tillman says their hearts go out to Kenney's family.
VA Medical Center Statement
Our hearts go out to Mr. Kenney and his family. We have already taken actions to look into these allegations.
We want area Veterans to know that we care deeply for them. Every day, several thousand Durham VA Medical Center employees come to work to honor and respect Veterans. We do this by providing them with safe, high quality patient care that they have earned and deserve.
We continually seek ways to improve service delivery to the men and women who have served our nation and as we move forward, we will keep the interests of Veterans foremost in mind, working to provide them the very best in health care, benefits, and services.
-Peter Tillman, Durham VA Medical Center Spokesperson