by David McNease
Sergeant First Class David McNease (retired), US Army, Bronze star recipient combat veteran was openly discriminated against by the Veterans Affairs. I received a phone call from Bridget at the Marquette VA on 3 Dec. 2014 around 12:35 that I had to be at an appointment in Marquette by 13:00 hours. I told her I could not make it on time as it takes me 35 minutes to be there. She that it was OK but I had to leave my service dog home. I told Bridget it was a felony to discriminate against someone whom has a service dog. She said that is what Dr. Wallman has insisted.
Problems with the VA have become terrible starting last January (2013) when my primary doctor (Dr. Lack) retired. Dr. Jacklin saw me on 6 Feb 2014. The next day he stopped or reduced all of my medications. Mind you that I am on over 14 medications. I did not know he stopped my medications until I was out. In the VA system the drug come through the mail Just it Time. However, no of my medications arrived. I tried to fight it but the VA refused to do anything until I could get into an appointment which was three weeks. I found a civilian doctor and he prescribed my medications out of my pocket. I had to fight Dr. Jacklin through the VA red tape (Patient Advocate) over three months. I finally got back into the Va with another doctor and since I was being prescribed the medications outside the VA he would not prescribe the medications for me. I tried to patiently work with the VA despite my PTSD and literally frustration with the VA. So I have been paying for my medications and civilian treatment this year.(Side note) In the time I had been treated by the civilian doctor since 22 Jan. 2014 I have gone from 290 pounds down to 220 pounds. That is going down from a 3x to a large. That is going from a 50″pants to a 34.”
This is the third time the VA has screwed me up to a point of suicide because they have forced me to go cold turkey from my medications. Back in Dec. 2012 I became suicidal and asked a friend to drive me from Ishpeming MI to the VA in Iron Mountain, MI. They shipped me like cargo to Tomah WI. The shut me in a small room with a bed the looked just like a small coffin. They took all but 2 of my medications from me even though I brought all of my current medications with me. They need to have it in writing or over the computer. I asked that the Iron Mountain VA transfer my records so that I could be on my current medications. The stay at Tomah, Wi was worse hospital stay ever. My tray was flipped over by another inmate and the staff would not give me anymore food. All of my belongings were gone and I was down to a top and bottom hospital shirt in a cold room at about 67 degrees. I was already having suicidal ideations when I got to Iron mountain. I rode a 13 hour ambulance ride through a snow storm and the Green Bay Packer traffic on Sunday night. I rose to level 2 at the psych ward and could be in a better room. My medication were only 4 or 5 of my normal medications. Of significant note the pain reliever hydrocodine was not given to me. I was extreme pain, having cycling thoughts of suicide and felt like I had no choice but bide my time in this hellhole. About my 5th day I ticked off one of the doctors and he saw to it that I be released. He prescribed ½ the medication for me to make it home from Tomah, WI to Ishpeming MI. I literally had to hitch a ride home from Tomah, WI to Ishpeming MI in the middle of the winter, and I was on my own still suicidal.
I came home and wrote about my trip and toughed it out until June 2013. I was having trouble breathing from Gulf War Illness that the VA
still denies that I have (even though it has been diagnosed by in the Army and as recent as two weeks ago) it. On 20 June I could not breath. I was choking. I called the VA. They told me to go to the ER. I told them faintly that I could not breathe to send help. They told me again to get up and go to the ER. Finally they called an ambulance. It is the same nightmare from my PTSD, I am choking because I was hit nerve agent, I could not escape the thoughts of hopelessness and helplessness keep cycling through my head. I then rapidly tired to find way to kill myself to escape the feelings of being trapped. They scheduled me for an appointment with Dr. Miller (my psychiatrist) the next morning. I went in with my mom. I told the doctor I could not stop the suicidal ideations. Dr. Miller laughed and told me that he would check the obituaries the next few days. I walked out my mom followed. One of the nurses actually fiercely grabbed my mom.
I drove home and (tried to die) took all the medications I could get my hands on. I knew what Michael Jackson had died from. I took 120 mg ativan to make sure I had the nerve to choke down the other medications. After about 30 minutes I took almost a month’s worth of eight of my other medications. It took some effort to choke them down. I was crying as I knew it was a sin to try and kill myself. I just wanted to stop hurting. The VA could not stop the pain. No matter what I tried I could not escape the pain. There was no joy to life anymore. I had served my purpose. I had been a soldier and defended our way of life and that was important. After taking the last of the medications I laid down in my bed upstairs with my two dogs. The next things I remember was waking up in ICU at Marquette General 28 hours later. Evidently they had done something to my stomach. It felt like someone had jabbed me from the inside.
I was now in the psych ward at Marquette General. I was court ordered to the ward. I stay there one week, still suicidal without again most of my medications because the US Veteran Affairs could not get my medication 16 city blocks. So I went cold turkey on my medications. I finally left the Marquette General Hospital with a promise to stop in to the VA the next week. I did as directed. I was still suicidal. I came into the appointment with Dr. Miller and Dr Ewers. Dr. Miller said he checked the obituaries. I told him that was rude and unprofessional. The outward treatment by all of the staff at the Marquette VA is terrible.
After my stay in the hospital I heard about service animals. I inquired about how to get on from the VA. It was near impossible. Dr. Miller did not know how to get one. I acquired one and asked for a letter from the VA that stated I could use her for psychiatric reasons.
Dr. Miller refused. I sent a letter to Michael Matwyuk the “Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist” in Iron Mountain MI requesting a letter for me to use my service dog. He sent back a three page letter telling me exactly why I did not need the letter and the punishments for people if they did prohibit me from using the dog.
Fast forward… 1 December I have been over ninety days with seeing a psychiatrist and the VA told me soonest they could get in was March 13th, 2015. I told them that not only was I having cycling suicidal ideations but my daughter whom is away to college in having them too. I literally walked into the VA and them I could not wait until March 13th 2015. The VA provider in charge literally raised her voice so all 25 other veteran in the clinic could hear her degrade me publically.
I was told to be at an appointment the next day on 2 Dec. 2014. I told the psychologist that I would not sit in the clinic because it upsets me too much. She had a chair put outside the clinic for me to sit in front of the door of the clinic like a little school boy waiting to see the principal. I was called in and I had my service dog with me.
I left the appointment and went to see the neurologist about the lack of taste and smell from Gulf War Illness. Mind you I am over $8,000 in outside medical and prescription medications this year alone. I am responsible for $4,000-$12,000 in medical bills of my own the VA does not pay for even though I am 90% disabled.
I came home to a card from the Ishpeming Police. Evidently the police had come to my house to make sure I was OK. Evidently, while I was in the neurologist the VA scheduled me to see the Psychiatrist at the same time. Since I did not show to my appointment they sent to police to bring me in. I am sick and tired of the VA trying to control me. I am not in the Army anymore. So 3 Dec. 2014, I get a phone call from the VA office telling me I could see the psychiatrist if I left my service dog home. Now I have had it. It is my civil right to have this dog and take her anywhere legally laid out by the state and federal regulations. I hope that people whom read this story will bring more awareness about the treatment by the VA people. In my opinion, we should do away with the VA and have all veterans get free medical care for their disabilities paid for by the US Government at any US hospital. I know this writing sounds jumpy. I am on new medications trying to calm me down from my suicide ideations. I want this message to get out and people know what goes on inside the VA. Thanks David McNease
I can be contacted at [email protected]