In the 40 days that he has been president, Donald Trump has approved of a military raid in Yemen and implemented a new order that left military families without child care. But he apparently does not have time to improve health care at veteran hospitals.
The Durham VA Medical Center has become a source of national outrage after visitors took pictures of neglected veterans, including one in which a man is slumped on the ground.
Former U.S. Marine Stephen McMenamin, and his wife, Hanna, first posted the pictures on Facebook after they went to the center for an appointment.
“The man in the wheelchair on the left were (sic) waiting in that waiting room at least 3 hours,” wrote Hanna. “The man bent over grabbing the chair was yelling in pain and was borderline convulsing and almost falling out of his chair, he was in so much pain. No one paid him any attention until I approached a nurse to please check on him. This gentleman sat in the waiting room in extreme pain for hours upon hours with very little attention paid to him.”
Jesse Lee, a Vietnam veteran, was the man in the wheelchair. He said he went to the VA for severe phantom pains after a leg amputation.
“Somebody in real bad pain should be seen,” Lee said. “It felt like a railroad spike was going through my foot. It’s like one of the worst pains you’ve ever felt in your life.”
Lee said he was in pain for several hours before he was attended to.
One of the veterans on the ground was using his medication bag for a pillow after he was declined a seat in the reclining chair, despite the fact nobody was sitting on it.
“The nurse started yelling at him, telling him he can’t do that. He’s like, ‘I can’t get up and I won’t get up. I will be here until you can see me. Can I please have a blanket?” McMenamin told WSOC.
The VA center has since contacted the couple and told them to remove the pictures from their social media account. But they refuse to do so claiming they will “not let the VA sweep this under the rug.”
Medical center director DeAnne Seekins thanked the couple for alerting them of the alarming issue.
“It is an honor to serve America’s heroes and actions that do not align with our core values will not be tolerated,” she said in a statement. “We pride ourselves on providing the highest quality care to the veterans we serve and being responsive to our patient’s needs. Veterans deserve nothing less.”
Commander of the North Carolina VFW Doug Blevins said things in the state have improved drastically and an investigation is ongoing. If neglect or lack of care is confirmed, he said, the staff responsible should be fired immediately.
"There's no question about it, I mean, there's no acceptable reason why this should have happened," Blevins said.
Durham VA medical center (photo from John Burk) is this how our veterans deserve to be treated? HELL NO. pic.twitter.com/Vc9PSvL2qF— Lindsey (@LindseyTNamez) February 27, 2017
WEF a veteran layung on the floor st the Durham VA Medical Center waiting for help and nobody can see about him. See WRAL news— J Rider (@kajun911) February 28, 2017
What a disgrace re vets at the VA hospital in Durham, NC. Most of them look like they're on too much meds & they look forgotten & neglected— Darlene Dosio (@dld64376621) March 1, 2017
Meanwhile, vets are being left in the waiting room in agony in the Durham, NC VA hospital under Trump's VA secretary. #JointAddress— evil ninja monkey (@evilrobert) March 1, 2017
@realDonaldTrump You have said NOTHING about the VETERANS left to suffer in pain while waiting HOURS to be seen at Durham, NC VA Hospital— Silvaseeker (@silvaseeker) March 1, 2017
@realDonaldTrump Ex solider laying on floor waiting at Durham, NC VA Hospital. This is terrible.— jm (@mtnjrm) February 28, 2017
Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump boldly vowed to improve veterans' healthcare. But it seems the only plans he has followed through with are the ones that harm people.