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Victims of VA Gridlock

The scandal involving the Veterans Affairs health care system, even the deaths of many veterans, ignited by whistleblower Sam Foote, M.D., has caused a firestorm of controversy and led to dozens of investigations and high-level firings. Here are the faces of those who say they were caught up in the national scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs

  • Veterans Failed by Veterans Administration Vicky Olson

    Vicky Olson

    The widow of ex-Marine Michael Olson, who died at age 45, says her husband had been trying to get an appointment with the VA for over a year when he succumbed in March to complications of hypertension, obesity and asthma. She says her husband had “fallen through the cracks” at the VA. — Tom Tingle/The Republic

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  • Veterans Failed by Veterans Administration Claude D'Unger

    Claude D’Unger

    The Army veteran says he has virtually given up on getting help from the Veterans Affairs hospital near his home in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is among veterans who say the VA’s almost impenetrable bureaucracy has become a source of anger and frustration as they deal with health problems. — Eddie Seal/ The New York Times/ Redux

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  • Veterans Failed by Veterans Administration Phyllis Hollenbeck

    Phyllis Hollenbeck, M.D.

    Working at the Veterans Affairs medical center in Jackson, Miss., Hollenbeck filed a whistleblower complaint over the lack of primary care physicians there. An acute shortage of doctors within the VA system may be at the center of the controversy over falsified patient wait-time data, VA doctors have said. — James Patterson/The New York Times/Redux

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  • Veterans Failed by Veterans Administration LaQuisha Gallmon

    Army Sgt. LaQuisha Gallmon

    Gallmon, holding 2-month-old Abbagayle at her home in Greenville, S.C., says that her local VA office had authorized her to see a private physician during her pregnancy, so she went to an emergency room after experiencing complications. She says the VA has refused to pay the $700 bill. — Richard Shiro/AP Photo

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  • Veterans Failed by Veterans Administration Walter Burkhartsmeier

    Walter 'Burgie' Burkhartsmeier

    The retired Navy veteran, 73, who did five tours in Vietnam, says he had to wait three months to get an MRI exam at a VA facility in Seattle for shooting pains down his left arm and 18 months for the MRI results to be read. The MRI revealed he had been at risk of paralysis during the time he waited on care.  — Maria L. La Ganga/Los Angeles Times

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  • Veterans Failed by Veterans Administration Ashley Morris

    Army Sgt. Ashley Morris

    Serving six months in Baghdad as an operating room technician in a military hospital, Morris returned home traumatized. She says she has had trouble getting comprehensive care at the community-based VA clinic near her home in Albertville, Ala. — Nick Ut/AP Photo

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  • Veterans Failed by Veterans Administration Jose Mathews

    Jose Mathews

    The former chief of psychiatry at the Veterans Affairs hospital in St. Louis says in a whistleblower complaint filed last year that he was demoted because of a staff "mutiny" after his efforts to make employees work harder and more efficiently to care for sick veterans. — Jeff Roberson/AP Photo

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  • Veterans Failed by Veterans Administration Connie Olberg

    Connie Olberg

    Olberg holds a photograph of her brother, Donald Douglass, taken in the 1970s when he was serving in Germany in the U.S. Army. Douglass died of cancer in 2012, and his attorney says a long delay in removing a cancerous spot on his forehead at the Seattle Veterans Affairs hospital contributed to his death. — Ted S. Warren/AP Photo

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  • Veterans Failed by Veterans Administration Marc Schenker

    Marc Schenker

    The Air Force veteran opted for private hernia surgery after waiting fruitlessly for months for a booking at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Schenker is among veterans who say that trying to get care through the VA has proved a frustrating and angering experience. — OSCAR HIDALGO/The New York Times/Redux

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