Shocking story of Veteran who was human guinea pig and forced to wait years on VA disability claim.
CNN aired a stunning report Saturday that graphically demonstrated how Veterans during the Vietnam War era were used as human guinea pigs, and how these and other Veterans are forced to wait years to get the care and disability benefits they earned from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Bergmann & Moore’s Paul Sullivan, our director of veteran outreach, was interviewed on camera for the CNN broadcast. He told the host, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, that “many veterans, 275,000 as of this week, are waiting an average of four to five years for an answer on an appealed disability claim. VA’s treatment of these veterans is absolutely unacceptable.”
Tim Josephs, an Army Veterans of the Vietnam War, told Gupta that he proudly joined the military when he was just 18. But soon after signing up, Josephs said he was chosen to participate in a two-month program at Edgewood Arsenal, which is the army’s chemical commodities center.
Josephs was one of about 7,000 military volunteers who took part in testing of some 250 chemical and biological agents over a 20-year period, Gupta said. Josephs told CNN that the Edgewood program made him sick and caused his Parkinson’s disease. After one test, Josephs said, “I couldn’t walk. My body shook violently and (there was) pain throughout my body. And just a lot of numbness.”
Despite severe side effects, including daily tremors and difficulty breathing and eating, Josephs, who with and other Edgewood Veterans are suing VA, was awarded just a 40 percent disability rating, CNN reported. That’s $602 a month, which Gupta said is not even enough to pay for his medications.
Josephs appealed in 2011, but was told by the Pittsburgh VA regional office that the agency would take another four years before it could decide his appeal, demonstrating just what Sullivan had told the cable news network about unreasonably long wait times for our Veterans.
But there is some good news: Josephs said on Saturday that as a result of CNN looking into the matter, his VA disability compensation rating was increased by VA to 80 percent. “My sincere thanks to CNN,” Josephs said. “I really appreciate it.”