Valley veteran believes he is a casualty of efforts to end a bac - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Valley veteran believes he is a casualty of efforts to end a backlog of cases in the VA system

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EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio - A veteran believes he is a casualty of efforts to end a back log of cases in the VA system. His denial paperwork that was sent to him by the Veteran Affairs Administration suggests he served in Vietnam when he was just 11 years old.

Donald Chambers who served as a combat medic in Vietnam in the US Army, takes a host of medications. He tells us some of the pills were prescribed after a VA doctor determined he had Agent Orange related Parkinson's symptoms. For decades Chambers tells us he has suffered symptoms of the chemical that the US government used to kill Foliage in Vietnam. Chambers says when he returned home in 1969 he had about 40 to 50 ping pong sized boils on his skin a week.
 
Chambers tells us at the border of Cambodia, Vietnam, Agent Orange was used all the time, to kill trees, and foliage. Then there would be air strikes by B-52 Bombers, and afterwards his infantry unit would go and see if the bunkers were cleared. The East Liverpool resident tells us he served with the US Army 1st Calvary Division Delta Company 3rd Platoon. Their job was to watch for infiltration routes to Saigon.
 
Chambers says about 3 years ago a VA doctor diagnosed him with Parkinson's symptoms related to chemical exposure but in February he got a letter saying he does not have Parkinson's symptoms connected with use of Agent Orange in Vietnam. Chambers says he had neuropathy and his calves and feet burn and sting all the time, and adds he has trouble dropping things and swallowing or choking. The letter states his benefits will stop February 1st. Chambers says, "I've been under the care of the V-A for four years now, and they want to throw me away."
 
Chambers tells us at a hearing the VA determined he does not have a service connected disability, but had excessive cerebral spinal fluid on the brain, so he now owes the military thousands of dollars for treatment he received and what the VA calls fraud. But the paper work for the denial shows Chambers was in the military September 1, 1959 and left the military July 6, 19-62. Yet his birth certificate shows he was born on July 1, 1948 so he would have been serving in Vietnam at the ages of 11 through 14.  Chambers believes this was done on purpose, that somebody's file was put in with his, so the dates of service predate America's use of Agent Orange in Vietnam.
 
The veteran says the Veterans Affairs Administration approved all of the surgeries prior to doctors performing them. Chambers also tells WFMJ he has letters from his neurologist stating he has white matter damage or atrophy which is related to Parkinson's Disease and neuropathy, and swallowing problems, all symptoms of Parkinson's. Chambers also tells us that when his file was read to him by a service officer in Lisbon, it states he drove a truck for the Department of Transportation during the years when he would have been just 5 and 6 years old. He showed me his combat medals which his DD214 confirm, and says the doctor who is now saying he is a fraud is the same doctor who approved him for the 50 percent disability about 3 years ago. He is frustrated letters from his neurologist who examined him don't have to be accepted by the VA. Chambers says the VA doctor who has determined he is committing fraud and does not have Parkinson's symptoms related to Agent Orange has never examined him, and has not consulted with the neurologist who has conducted an examination and had tests run.
 
Chambers has tried since April to get access to his own file even filing a Freedom of Information Request. He tells us what bothers him the most is that he has been trying to defend himself without a copy of his file. He tells us he has asked the Veteran's Service Commission Office for a copy and was told they didn't think they could give him a copy. That agency has filed an appeal based on the erroneous dates of service.
 
Chambers says someone who fought for the freedom of others, and risked his life for our country, should have free access to his or her own medical files, to defend themselves. He does not believe it's too much to ask. He fears this is happening to other veterans, not just himself. The Vietnam veteran has sent letters certified return receipt to President Barack Obama, the Defense Secretary, the Secretary of Veteran's Affairs, and Senator Sherrod Brown requesting their help.

Congressman Bill Johnson's office contacted 21 News after seeing our story. The Congressman called Chambers himself and his staff will be working with the veteran to try and help solve his problems.

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