Valley veteran in pain claims he can't get surgery scheduled at Phoenix VA hospital

PHOENIX - A Valley veteran used to helping other vets in need of care says he can't get the help he needs at the Phoenix VA hospital.

Dan Swafford said the pain is so bad he can't sleep. He tore several ligaments in his right shoulder during a game of softball.

“It went 'pop, pop.' Two pops and I went down from the pain,” he said.  The pain isn't going away.

“It's been very, extremely painful. Second most painful thing in my life,” Swafford said.

The trouble for him isn't getting a hold of the VA, it's getting the care he needs to recover.

He said he's been waiting months to try and get some care. He claims that he went to the emergency room, but was instructed to see a regular doctor.

“I couldn't believe what I was hearing. And I said, can I please get this done as soon as possible?” he said.

So he started writing letters, trying to get help.

His desperation showed through in one of the letters that he addressed "to anyone that can help me."

“It should be an emergency. Why isn't emergency surgery taking care of this? I don't have any faith,” he said.

The Vietnam veteran knows all about serving his country.

“That's three purple hearts, two bronze stars,” he said, pointing at the medals hanging in a plaque on his wall.

And he knows what pain feels like—from being caught in the war.

The pain hasn't kept Swafford from helping other veterans he says are in worse shape than he is.

But after dealing with the VA for himself this time, he wonders what kind of care they're getting.

“The case I'm working on with the brain tumor-- so help me if he dies before this case is over,” he said.

Swafford said this is the first time he's had issues with the Phoenix VA.

He got a call from them Thursday saying he qualifies for private care. But he said they told him it would be another month before they could even set an appointment.

 

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