Deceased Sergeant’s Wife Laments His Awful, Delayed Treatment By VA

Sergeant Terry Mitchell bravely served his country as a radio operator in the Vietnam War. While most people would think he was treated with the utmost respect and gratitude, his wife Vicki Mitchell says treatment from the VA was so horrible that it caused his death.

Speaking with CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen about her husband’s harrowing struggle with cancer, Mitchell called the VA "VA hell- because you are in hell when you get here," she angrily said.

A VA pathologist found a growth on Terry Mitchell’s neck on August 8, 2012. The growth is "concerning for cancer" they said, and recommended that his neck be operated and the growth be removed. Medical records show that it took two and a half months for Mitchell to get his surgery. The Dallas VA told CNN that this timetable for treatment "meets the standard of care" at the VA and that Mitchell "…didn’t have a typical type of skin cancer and therefore did not have a typical treatment plan."

CNN consulted with cancer surgeons outside the VA and they said they would not wait two and a half months to remove such a growth. The most time they would wait for a cancer related surgery is a few weeks.

"The waits at the VA hospitals were roughly twice that of community hospitals," Dr. Karl Bilimoria revealed. He added, "…I don’t think it’s appropriate that they [the veterans] wait months [for treatment]."

Bilimoria emailed Dr. Michael Kelley, the head of Oncology at the VA nationally. Kelley replied back to Bilimoria, "…timeliness of care is of interest but would not be at the top of my list." Mitchell’s wife expressed her outrage over Kelley’s blunt lack of care for the Veterans. Kelley declined CNN’s request for an on-camera interview, but issued a statement instead.

Asked by Cohen if she misses her husband, Mitchell sadly told her "Oh my god, yes- every minute of every day. He was my love."