Colorado vet turns to the media to hear his plea

Veteran sits with broken prosthetic leg. - Mike Duran/FOX21 News.
Veteran sits with broken prosthetic leg. - Mike Duran/FOX21 News.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – A Colorado Springs veteran has raised his voice on behalf of himself and others claiming to not get the care they need from the VA.

The man, who lost his leg to an IED, said it took him 3 months to get the treatment he needed for his broken prosthetic.

Michael Thomas said each time he called, they gave him a new reason why he had to wait.

It wasn’t until he contacted FOX21 News, started posting on Facebook and calling congressmen that he feels his voice was finally heard.

After three months of waiting, he saw his doctor the first time this week.

According to recent statistics, the El Paso County VA Clinic ranks near the bottom nationwide in getting veterans timely health care. Thomas said based off his experience it’s not surprising.

“I believe it,” said Thomas. “I believe all the stories. I’ve got no reason not to, because I’ve experienced it first-hand.”

After losing his leg fighting for his county, the only thing keeping Thomas out of a wheelchair is his prosthetic leg. A leg that’s only functional because of duct tape, leather and super glue.

“It keeps suction for the most part, I have to replace the duct tape every once in a while, and then I have another spot higher up on the back,” said Thomas. “It’s kind of a lip that goes along the inside of my thigh that also has cuts in it.”

Thomas said without the leather and glue it would pinch his skin with every step.

“It shouldn’t take this long for me to get a leg,” said Thomas. “Not even a leg. Just a piece of fiber glass that’s fitted to my body. It shouldn’t take three months and a call to my congressmen and the news. No. It shouldn’t be that way.”

Is three months too long for a veteran to wait? That’s a question the VA didn’t have the answer to, but they did explain their process.

“We air on the side of caution to make sure we get the right limb manufactured the right way for the veteran, rather than push through and getting something we can’t use,” said Daniel Wavri, public affairs officer for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

Thomas said he is aware these things don’t happen overnight, but when he takes his story and all the others into account, he believes there needs to be a change.

“I don’t know what the process should be, but I know that it shouldn’t be how it is now,” said Thomas.

The VA did claim that some of this delay did fall on forms that were not filled out, but those papers only accounted for approximately three weeks of the wait time.

They said they are taking Thomas’ complaints seriously and are working to figure out a solution

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