VA Refuses to Pay for Veteran’s Feeding Tube Liquid

Those who join the Armed Forces to uphold and protect our nation should feel that when the time comes to leave the military, veterans’ surely would like to know that the Veterans Administration and associated government beneficial needs will be there for them when they need it.

However, that is not the case for Army Maj. Dennis “DJ” Skelton of Elk Point, South Dakota who gained the “moniker” as the “most wounded commander” in U.S. military history, was informed by the Department of Veterans Affairs that they will not pay for his feeding tube liquid.

Yes, you read that right.

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Skelton published an open letter to the VA on the Foreign Policy website and said that he was told by the VA to go to his local hospital’s emergency room to get a feeding tube placed in his stomach due to his “shot-up palate deteriorating,” making it difficult for him to either eat or drink.

Skelton’s Letter stated:

Dear VA,

On Saturday you had me go to the emergency room at my local hospital to place a feeding tube in my stomach because, with my shot-up palate deteriorating, it is getting dangerous again for me to eat or drink through the mouth.

I hear nothing afterwards about when you might be shipping cans of Ensure, Jevity or something etc. to my house so I can have something to eat through said tube. But it is the same system as last time and the same process as we discussed right before going into surgery. Except this time you have decided that there is a better brand of feeding tube liquid than Jevity (from last time) and you persuaded me to switch to Diabetisource brand.

So today, six days post-surgery, I received a letter from you informing me that the brand you recommended to me, Diabetisource, is actually not covered by the VA and I need to go find and pay for my own feeding tube liquid on my own.

So when the Secretary of the VA’s front office called me last week to inquire if any of my current problems were in any way the fault of the VA — the answer is YES!

I am fully aware of the fact that one can survive for two weeks without food, but come on! (Btw, thanks to Price Floyd for letting me use your turkey baster when I was in D.C. this week.)

I see this as a teaching moment for both the VA and my friends. But please, we don’t need to use my case to shed light on everything that is wrong with the system. Just throw one or two problems at me at a time, OK? Thank you.

Ironically I’m writing this on a train as I travel to West Point to help write a chapter on “resilience” for their new Psychology textbook. And now I’m giggling, which is extremely painful since I have a fresh hole in my stomach.

Your pal.

Skelton’s heroic actions, ignored by the Veterans Administration, were written up on Army.mil in December 2015.

Army.mil reported:

In September 2004, just a year after graduating from West Point, he deployed to Iraq, where he took part in the Second Battle of Fallujah. There, Skelton and his platoon were tasked with defending an important intersection outside the city.

Two months later, on Nov. 6, 2004, Skelton and his platoon were dug in at the intersection, and unbeknownst to his platoon, the enemy had dug in as well, on the other side of the freeway. Upon observing the insurgent activity, Skelton and his Soldiers engaged.

“I was hit in that firefight … I happened to be standing beside a cement pylon and the next thing I knew, it was pitch dark,” Skelton recalled. “I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t feel anything. I felt like I was floating through space. One of the last things I remember was hearing one of my Soldiers say, ‘I think the lieutenant’s dead.’ At that time, a switch flipped, and I began to feel the most intense pain of my life.”

Skelton’s Soldiers jumped into action and dragged him out of the fight. One resourceful Soldier used a spent .50-caliber round as an airway and preformed a field tracheotomy. Amazingly, less than 10 minutes later, Skelton was in a nearby combat support hospital, where doctors began to assess the severity of his injuries.

And Skelton’s wounds, by any measure, were horrific. A small scar on his left cheek remains where he was shot, but it is what happened after the round pierced Skelton’s face that changed his life forever. Once through his cheek, the bullet began to tumble, destroying his mouth and soft palate before exiting out of his right eye socket.

Sadly, the round to Skelton’s face was not the only injury his body would endure. He was further injured when a rocket-propelled grenade, or RPG, struck the pylon beside him.

VA Refuses to Pay for Veterans’ Feeding Tube
Army Maj. Dennis “DJ” Skelton

“My left arm was destroyed. My hand was intact, but everything from the wrist to the elbow was destroyed,” Skelton said. “The head of the RPG broke and went through my right leg. My ammunition belt got hot and began cooking off. Those rounds, along with various enemy AK-47 rounds, went through my right arm and left shoulder.”

This is a soldier that risked his life for everything and now the Veterans Administration has decided that all he has been through, it is now tough luck buddy and “we” the VA owe you nothing.

Have you ever wondered why so many veterans take their own lives that we see constantly in the news? Well, here is one example and although Skelton has not taken his own life due to all of this, there are others that probably would have.

If situations like this keep up, who’s to say that our armed forces will dwindle in numbers in the coming decades if we veterans are ignored after giving our time and in some cases, died while serving, only to come back and be ignored by the Veterans Administration.

Let that sink in the next time you see a veteran.

Help a USAF Veteran who has had no income in 3 months in need by clicking here.

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