A decorated Army combat veteran who accused the Department of Veterans’ Affairs of abandoning him in his battle against terminal cancer died last week.
The family of former Army Sgt. John Marshall announced his death in a statement Monday, Fox News reported. The veteran, who died last Thursday, is survived by his wife and two small children.
"John was the type of guy who touched people even if he didn’t know them that long," Marshall’s wife Ashley, who is also a veteran, said in a statement. "The amount of people that have come from all over to offer condolences has been amazing and overwhelming. I knew John was a great person, but it shouldn’t have amazed me as it did that so many other people thought so, too."
Marshall died at his home in Surprise, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. He was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma over a year ago.
Marshall alleged in an interview earlier this year that the VA denied his claims that his cancer was caused by his service in Iraq, and particularly by his close proximity to burn pits. A 2013 report from the Government Accountability Office concluded that open burn pits were a likely cause of chronic health problems faced by veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It’s all just a big slap in the face. I tried to be the perfect soldier," Marshall told Fox News, according to a February article. "I did everything I was told, and now they just forced my claim through and denied coverage and my benefits."
A VA spokesperson said last month that the agency could revisit Marshall’s case, but the cancer had already become terminal.
Marshall, his wife, and other supporters helped raise money for his medical costs using a GoFundMe page. The effort netted over $50,000 from 741 supporters in 17 months. Ashley Marshall posted a note on the website thanking supporters last week.
"Thank you to all. I know John would want me to thank you all for the support of our family," she wrote.