From his bed at Florida Hospital North Pinellas in Tarpon Springs, Navy veteran Lonnie Kilpatrick has a message for the new secretary of the VA about spending money the right way.
“It’s more important to take care of your veterans than it is to get approval for a bridge to nowhere,” Lonnie said.
Arthritis the VA treated in Lonnie’s back during the last four years turned out to be kidney cancer.
“Stage four, nothing they can do for me,” explained Lonnie. “Make me comfortable, you know, maybe give me some drugs that will make me live a little longer.”
This week, another blow.
The VA turned down his claim for Agent Orange disability benefits.
“When you join the service it’s all, ‘we’re going to take care of you, we got your back,'” stated Lonnie.
“Come to find out you ain’t got nothing.”
Stationed on Guam during Vietnam and assigned to a highly classified electronic warfare unit, Lonnie worked near heavily sprayed areas, such as runways and airbase perimeters.
“I got extremely sick,” he said.
He ran a high fever for weeks and developed a rash all over his body.
When he left Guam, his medical records disappeared.
“It was like it never happened,” he added.
The military denies spraying Agent Orange on Guam.
Veteran Leroy Foster of Lakeland told Target 8 in 2017 that he sprayed the toxic defoliant all over the island.
Contacted by Target 8, Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R)-Florida, asked the Department of Defense to declassify Lonnie’s records hoping there’s evidence to reverse the VA denial.
Congressman Bilirakis is also suggesting an 1151 claim.
“It’s kind of equivalent to a medical malpractice claim against the VA and I think it’s warranted in this case,” Rep. Bilirakis said. “I think he was misdiagnosed.”
Lonnie did his duty.
“I didn’t walk out on them,” explained Lonnie.
He can’t say the same for the VA.
If you know of something that should be investigated contact our Target 8 Helpline at 1 800 338-0808.
Contact Steve Andrews at firstname.lastname@example.org.