VA rejects veteran’s claim on the heels of misdiagnosis

Investigations

His medical treatment delayed due to a VA misdiagnosis, now the Department of Veterans Affairs has dealt another crushing blow to a local Navy veteran. 

After an eight year wait on his claim for Agent Orange disability benefits, the VA said no to Lonnie Kilpatrick of Holiday.

Lonnie was stationed on Guam in 1971.  

He worked along airfield perimeters, where the military sprayed Agent Orange.

Lonnie developed Ischemic heart disease and received a heart transplant in 2010.

“They said it was Ischemic heart disease due to Agent Orange,” his wife Sheila said.

Lonnie applied to the VA for Agent Orange disability benefits in 2010.

In 2016, the VA said it needed more information.

In March, it told the Kilpatricks the wait will take another three to four months. 

“I mean it can’t take this long. They just don’t want to give him the benefits is what the truth is,” said Sheila.

It has been an excruciating year for the Kilpatricks.

The VA at Bay Pines told the family Lonnie’s severe back pain was due to herniated discs and arthritis.

In January, in agony, Sheila took Lonnie to a civilian hospital. Tests showed he had stage four kidney cancer.

As the disease spreads through his body, he lies in a hospital bed waiting.

He needed transfusions on Wednesday.

“They’re doing treatments for the cancer but it’s killing his immune system,” explained Sheila.

Our reports about this misdiagnosis prompted a meeting between Lonnie’s family and Bay Pines’ chief of staff.

“She said fortunately for us, she wanted us to know that they would try to do a better job in the future,” said Sheila. “Well I don’t think that’s fortunate for us. It’s not fortunate for Lonnie. It’s not fortunate for me, my kids, my grandkids.” 

The Kilpatricks got their answer about the benefits for which Lonnie applied, but not an explanation.

They hope they get better news from doctors working to save Lonnie’s life.

If you have a problem you think should be investigated, call our Target 8 Helpline at 1-800-338-0808.
Contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com.

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