TAMPA (WFLA)- All Bill Davis wanted from the VA was an update on the status of his appeal for benefits but what he received left him shaking his head.
For seven years Davis, an Air Force Veteran who now resides in Hudson, skirmished with the VA who repeatedly denied his claims that his illnesses are service-related.
More than a year ago, a Board of Veterans Appeals judge told Davies he needed a letter from a doctor stating how his sarcoidosis of the lungs was connected to his time in the military. Daivs provided letters from two doctors.
“They’re waiting for time to run out,” Davis said.
In July of this year, frustrated by a lack of communication from the VA, Davis reached out to 8 On Your Side and we contacted Congressman Gus Bilirakis’ office and the VA in Washington for answers.
Davis recently received a letter from the VA and learned that during the last 12 months, his case went nowhere because of a mistake by the VA.
“We received a letter from the VA stating that there was a malfunction with the audio equipment when I had my hearing,” Davis explained.
Katrina Eagle an attorney who handles only veterans cases calls this VA incompetence.
“Inexcusable incompetence to say the least,” Veterans Advocate and attorney Katrina Eagle said. According to Ms. Eagle, usually, a hearing recording is sent out immediately so a transcript can be created.
“That the Board figured out it was garbled in August 2020 seems to suggest that the recording was never sent out in the first place,” Eagle stated. “It should never have taken them a year to figure out the audio messed up.”
Davis’ doctors think his illnesses are more likely than not caused by his exposure to chemical agents, like Trichloroethylene, a known cancer-causing chemical cleaner the Air Force commonly used.
Bill worked on OV-10 fighters in Thailand and Vietnam and believes he was also exposed to toxic herbicides while serving in Southeast Asia.
According to the Director of the VA’s Office of Media Relations in Washington, D.C., the problem with the audio from Davis’ hearing was an isolated mistake that resulted in discipline for the employee involved.
In an email the VA’s Susan Carter explained, The transcription team listens to the digital audio recording within approximately 30 days and transcribes the appeal. The error, in this case, was discovered but standard follow up procedures with the Veteran were not followed.”
Ms. Carter adds the VA has already been in touch with Davis to advise him of his options and it is working to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
For Davis, he describes dealing with the VA exhausting and feels the VA is treating him more like he’s looking for a handout than the benefits he earned.
“It’s not right,” Davis said. “It really does drive so many vets to suicide, they just go I can’t deal with it anymore.”
If you know of something that you think should be investigated, call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1 800 338-0808 or contact Steve Andrews at firstname.lastname@example.org