Published June 30, 2013
A Vietnam veteran has been waiting for more than two years for government benefits to help pay for treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and exposure to Agent Orange, WSMV Channel 4 reported.
Tennessee resident Kenneth Moore was a 19-year-old stationed in Thailand during the Vietnam War, and was sent several times to Vietnam for radio work. He recalls the strange powdery herbicide being sprayed on trees that landed on his clothes. When he returned to the states, he says, he began taking medicine to help with the nightmares of war, which still haunt him.
So when Moore began having lung and heart problems, he filled out the Department of Veterans Affairs’ disability forms.
Now Moore is one of an estimated 5,000 Tennessee veterans mired in a backlog, waiting more than 125 days for their disability claims, according to a WSMV investigation.
Upon his discharge, Moore’s papers state “Vietnam Campaign Medal,” and he was placed on the Agent Orange registry. His place on the registry came after Moore was diagnosed with heart disease by an Agent Orange specialist with the VA. He was also diagnosed by another doctor with PTSD.
Still, the VA denied Moore his claim twice over a two-year period, the station reports. The VA said there was no proof of PTSD and no proof he was exposed to Agent Orange. And, because he was originally stationed in Thailand, they said there was no proof he was even ever in Vietnam.
"It's just like, 'You're a liar,' you know," Moore told WSMV.
When the station inquired about Moore’s case, the VA stated that a paystub submitted by Moore’s wife, Judy, proves he was in Vietnam and exposed to Agent Orange.
When asked why Judy Moore had to provide the proof, the VA said it is still operating with paper files, not electronic records, so it’s harder to find the information.
The delays mean veterans are growing older and, in some cases, sicker while they wait for technology to catch up, and Kenneth Moore is afraid many of the vets are running out of time.
"It's not just me. It's thousands and thousands of veterans out there that they'd done like this. And they've finally given up, or they've died from this mess," he told the station.
According to WSMV, Kenneth Moore still isn't receiving his benefits. He did, however, receive a letter this month stating the VA wanted him to have another exam to determine if he really has PTSD.