East Tennessee veteran fights for medical treatment

East Tennessee veteran fights for medical treatment

Posted:
John Hooper, 62, is unable to drive, and after a career as a property manager, he's been forced to retire due to emotional and psychological scars he attributes to his military service. John Hooper, 62, is unable to drive, and after a career as a property manager, he's been forced to retire due to emotional and psychological scars he attributes to his military service.
Hoping to make a career out of the Army, he enlisted at the age of 19 and served a tour with an artillery unit in Vietnam where memories are still fresh. (source: John Hooper) Hoping to make a career out of the Army, he enlisted at the age of 19 and served a tour with an artillery unit in Vietnam where memories are still fresh. (source: John Hooper)
Hooper says he's taken a test for post-traumatic stress disorder three times, but has not received a response. Hooper says he's taken a test for post-traumatic stress disorder three times, but has not received a response.
"[The tremors began] 45 years ago when I was in Vietnam," John Hooper said. "[They were caused by] being scared to death, being scared to death, seeing dead bodies." "[The tremors began] 45 years ago when I was in Vietnam," John Hooper said. "[They were caused by] being scared to death, being scared to death, seeing dead bodies."
"We can't go to Walmart if it is crowded. He gets a panic attack," Tonia Hooper said. "He's kind of fallen through the cracks like so many other veterans." "We can't go to Walmart if it is crowded. He gets a panic attack," Tonia Hooper said. "He's kind of fallen through the cracks like so many other veterans."

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

LIVINGSTON, Tenn. (WATE) - Military veterans seeking medical attention from the VA system have watched with wonder how quickly Congress has moved on reform since revelations were raised about delayed care at VA medical centers.

For some veterans, however, reform can't come soon enough.

Vietnam veteran John Hooper leans a lot on his wife these days. He says Tonia acts as his nurse, psychologist and chauffeur.

Hooper, 62, is unable to drive, and after a career as a property manager, he's been forced to retire due to emotional and psychological scars he attributes to his military service.  

Hoping to make a career out of the Army, he enlisted at the age of 19 and served a tour with an artillery unit in Vietnam where memories are still fresh.

Today, his hands shake uncontrollably in spite of medication.

"[The tremors began] 45 years ago when I was in Vietnam," he said. "[They were caused by] being scared to death, being scared to death, seeing dead bodies."

Hooper says he's taken a test for post-traumatic stress disorder three times, but has not received a response.

"I have turned this in to the health professional at the Cookeville clinic," he said.

On the test, he's answered "yes" to questions that indicate post traumatic stress, including those about flashbacks, which Hooper says he experiences.

"Every time you deal with the VA, it is like fighting a war. Unless you scream and yell, you are going to get set aside," he said.

He says medical attention to his swollen elbow has been set aside by the VA until recently.  

"I have been trying to get my elbow drained for a year and a half now. They finally got it scheduled," said Hooper.

Tonia Hooper administers her husband's VA-supplied medications. Recently, she's seen a declining change in his well-being.

"We can't go to Walmart if it is crowded. He gets a panic attack," she said. "He's kind of fallen through the cracks like so many other veterans. He's complained about these issues for years now. They seem to be ignoring him or not taking him seriously."

When the former Army Specialist received his VA benefits card, he looked forward to medical care promised to veterans.

Last week, as the U.S. Senate and House approved bills to settle the growing controversy of long waits for medical attention experienced by veterans like Hooper at VA facilities, he hopes change comes soon because he faces a possible life threatening situation due to a growing mass in his lung.

"It was detected a long time ago. They told us then it was a small spot, but because nothing has been done about it for three years, it has grown into a golf ball sized mass," said Tonia.

Hooper's persistence in seeing a doctor for that mass is reflected in nearly a dozen requests for an appointment made since January.    

At the end of July, he will finally get to see a doctor at the VA Medical Center in Nashville. If an operation is necessary, he'd rather go to a private provider, not a VA hospital.  

"Because of the way it is operated, I'm scared to death to go there. I mean I'm afraid to have an operation there," said Hooper.

Hooper has an appointment with the VA in Nashville at the end of July for a doctor to look at that golf ball sized mass in his chest. However, draining that infected elbow will must come first. That will happen at the clinic in Cookeville.

Needless to say, Hooper and his wife are nervous about the future and frustrated with the process.Knox

Powered by WorldNow

1306 N. Broadway NE Knoxville,
Tennessee 37917

Telephone: 865.637.NEWS(6397)
Fax: 865.525.4091
Email: newsroom@wate.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Young Broadcasting of Knoxville, Inc. A Media General Company.