Veterans waiting years for benefits
BATON ROUGE - Veterans in Louisiana told News 2 they are waiting for years in some cases for the VA to pay them back for denied health care claims.
Volunteer Veterans Service Officer Charles Battiste says he works with about 40 veterans a week to help them with denied claims. Battiste finds similar claims from other states that have been approved, and helps veterans with their paperwork to speed up the process.
Battiste recalls one patient who couldn't afford to pay for more treatments, then died while he was waiting to get reimbursed.
"He has the whole nine yards for what agent orange represents under that umbrella for veterans, he didn't get approved," Battiste said. "They granted his wife the benefits, but as she's told me, 'It does me no good, my husbands gone.' "
New data from the VA shows veterans in south Louisiana may wait more than a month on average to see a medical professional. New patients have to wait 38.3 days on average to get an appointment in New Orleans, the 17th highest among the nation's 140 veterans' facilities and ten days more than the national average of 27.4 days. The Alexandria VA has an average wait of 20.3 days for new patients.
Battiste is going to Magnolia Veterans Home June 5 from 8am until 5pm to help any veterans with denied claims.