Tuesday, November 12 2013 11:15 PM EST2013-11-13 04:15:14 GMT
Historic changes, proposed to the way the US military deals with reports of sexual assault, could offer hope to the thousands of men and women who, while risking their lives for their country, faced abuseMore >
Historic changes are coming to the way the US military handles reports of sexual assaults. The Senate is expected to debate new protocols on dealing with the issue this week. While there is disagreement over the details, all want to bring relief and justice to those who've been serving in silence.More >
FAIRWAY, KS (KCTV) -
A local veteran received his VA benefits seven months after a recent
KCTV5 special assignment got a U.S. Senator involved in his case.
"I truly believe this should have been taken care of 45 years ago," said Jack, 64, an Air Force veteran. "I'm grateful they listened to me. There are so many out there they haven't listened to."
When KCTV5 first told Jack's story, he didn't want his first name used, so we called him "Paul."
Now, seven months later, Jack is ready to use his real name and let others hear his voice about the sexual assault that changed his life back in the summer of 1969.
"It's like, I was told, ‘suck it up and move on ... your word against his.' Blah. Blah. Blah. Etcetera. Etcetera," he said.
Jack said he reported the sexual assault to a commanding officer while stationed in Iceland during the Vietnam War. But the investigation never went anywhere.
During the last four decades, the honorably discharged veteran applied for VA benefits three times for help with his therapy but was denied.
"My blessing is that I saw you did a piece and it touched me," he said. "I wanted to share it with you."
Jack contacted KCTV5 investigative reporter Eric Chaloux the day after Chaloux aired another story about a female Army soldier who was sexually assaulted while in a war zone.
Chaloux shared Jack's story with Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, who launched a congressional inquiry into his case with VA in the fall.
On May 14, the Department of Veterans Affairs notified Jack that his benefits and payments will begin shortly.
Jack said during a recent interview that receiving the letter from the VA was a moment he never thought would come.
"I was relieved that someone paid attention," he said, thankful for KCTV5 and McCaskill's help.
McCaskill said she is thrilled he finally got what he deserved.
"That is the recognition that he suffered a terrible trauma and the military owed him benefits," McCaskill said.
McCaskill said after new laws she pushed through, no victim will have to wait 45 years for someone to listen.
"Today's victim has their own lawyer. They report it to anyone. That lawyer can advise them through a very difficult process," she said.
McCaskill also talked Thursday about the care veterans are receiving. She released the results of a survey that she conducted that asked vets about the VA hospital in Kansas City. McCaskill said the survey found that veterans say the quality of care at the state's VA hospitals is deteriorating.
More than 1,000 veterans were recently surveyed in Kansas City, Columbia and St. Louis about their experiences at the VA. It's the fourth year McCaskill's staff has conducted the confidential veterans surveys and the latest numbers are all down.
Eighty percent of those surveyed say the overall care was average or better, while the remaining 20 percent of veterans felt Missouri's VA hospitals had "below average or poor" quality of care for their treatment.
As far as wait time, 76 percent say they were easily able to schedule an appointment.
McCaskill said that, based on her research, Missouri's VA's are in decent shape, but she can't say that about other hospitals.
"It is unacceptable and outrageous that any facility would be cooking the books, in order to help their salaries and bonuses, and meanwhile hiding the fact veterans are waiting too long for services," she said.
When asked if she feels a top to bottom cleaning is needed in the Veterans Affairs system, McCaskill said she needs to hear more from the inspector general's report on the scope of the problem.
KCTV5 News began these series of reports from a phone call from one veteran that took us to Washington D.C. to get answers.
Thursday, May 29 2014 12:33 PM EDT2014-05-29 16:33:59 GMT
The battle over how the military deals with sexual assaults hit the floor Tuesday in the U.S. Senate. The issue, revealed in a recent KCTV5 investigation, encouraged another veteran to share his storyMore >
The issue of how the military deals with sexual assaults, discussed in a recent KCTV5 investigation, encouraged another veteran to share his story of abuse after 44 years of silence.More >
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