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Vietnam veteran fighting for benefits

DECATUR -- This veteran is upset with the way the VA has treated him and now his voice is joining thousands of others who feel the same way.
DECATUR -- This veteran is upset with the way the VA has treated him and now his voice is joining thousands of others who feel the same way. The national problem has spilled over to Illinois.

Senator Dick Durbin (D) is calling for audits of all state VA hospitals. That's after at least eight vets had to wait more than three months for treatment. WCIA-3's Gary Brode met a man who's been waiting a lot longer for something else from the VA.

It's been 14 years since Gene Snyder had a stroke. Then, it was one health problem after another. This ailing vet says the VA isn't giving him what he deserves.

"What can you do? You gotta wait," says veteran Gene Snyder. "And I'm just about on my last leg."

Gene Snyder spent 17 years in the Army; two of them in Vietnam. But now this veteran has a list of health issues. He's hoping the country he served will return the favor. Snyder and his wife, Linda, have been in a three year legal battle with the VA Administration.

Linda Snyder says, "My daughter got an e-mail saying that they did not have enough information, and about month before that they said they had all the information they needed."

"What did they say they're missing?"

"They don't say."

Some of Snyder's illnesses, like lymphoma and type 2 diabetes, could be Agent Orange-related. He, along with about 200,000 Vietnam veterans, are eligible for disability compensation.

"A little bit would mean a lot," says Linda. "We're not asking for anything he's not entitled to."

The VA is now covering his insulin, but he takes 13 medications. The rest he pays for. It's so expensive, the couple can't afford the place they've called home for 40 years and have to move out.

Linda says, "It's been hard. It's been hard. Since he's had his stroke, I love him and I wouldn't want it any other way for me to take care of him, but what scares me the most is something would happen that I wouldn't be able to take care of him."

It could take several months before the two find out if they will be getting some more help. It's a decision Gene Snyder might not live to see.

Linda says, "I am frustrated. I really am. I'm frustrated for him because I am scared to death he will die before he gets those benefits."

Linda Snyder says she has no complaints with Decatur Veterans Affairs office or Danville VA Hospital.

Veterans Affairs will be taking a closer look at the VA in Danville concerning patient access. Monday, the department released a statement it would further review 112 VA sites around the country. Illiana Healthcare System is one of them.

Last month, there were more than 700 site visits including VA hospitals and outpatient clinics. The Danville VA was told its inspection was a positive one, making this recent news a bit of a surprise.

There were almost 2,000 scheduled appointments on the day it was visited. 99% of the scheduled patients got care within a month.

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