29 years: That is how long it took one vet to get an appointment at the VA

WATCH: Local veteran finally gets appointment at VA hospital after 29 years of trying

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It took a local veteran 29 years to get a doctor’s appointment through the VA. Robert Holloway said after nearly three decades of back-and-forth with the VA, he called FOX13 Investigates for help. After years of waiting, he now has his first doctor’s appointment through the VA Tuesday.

Holloway said he has had headaches, stomachaches, hearing problems, and a bad knee since he served in the Army. Holloway kept doctor’s notes from the service that prove many of his injuries stemmed from that time.

“I started signing up for benefits in 1990,” Holloway said. “I woke up one morning to get out of the bed and hit the floor.”

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Holloway told FOX13 every day for the last 29 years has been painful.

“It makes me wish I never went in the Army,” he said. “For real. If I’d known I was going to get treated like this, I would have never went in.”

Holloway said he has constant headaches from gunpowder, stomach issues from gas chambers, and hearing loss from artillery. But he said aside from the physical pain, there’s also what he describes as emotional pain—that of feeling pushed around by the VA for years.

“Everything I’m talking to you about is service-connected. Not after I got out. This happened while I was in. But they don’t want to do nothing,” he said.

Holloway said he can’t afford a laptop, cell phone with a camera, or a car. Because of this, he said it’s been nearly three decades of back-and-forth snail mail with the VA. He gets letters that state that his benefits are denied because there’s no evidence that his injuries came from the service, and provided FOX13 with those letters. But Holloway also provided his medical records from the 70s. They show that many of his injuries were from his time in the Army.

Even though Holloway said he has never been able to get an appointment with the VA, he said they mailed him medication. FOX13 is asking questions about that which have not yet been answered.

“Gave them six years and they act like I’m in the Japanese Army trying to get Russian benefits,” Holloway said.

FOX13 Investigative Reporter Leah Jordan reached out to the VA’s Nashville office in late October.

That’s when a spokesperson said Holloway would need to sign a privacy release form and that would allow FOX13 access his personal records.

After we sent Holloway the forms, he signed them, and he mailed them to Nashville, Leah’s specific questions to the VA still weren’t directly answered.

“Any time a Veteran or family member has a concern, we reach out to them directly, just as we are doing with the Veteran in this case.
a spokesperson said.

All Veterans who disagree with their VA claim decisions are entitled to an appeal. See here for more information: https://www.va.gov/decision-reviews/

A maze of previous federal laws made VA’s claim appeals process complex, inefficient and difficult to navigate for Veterans.

That’s why VA worked with Congress and Veterans Service Organizations on the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, which overhauls and modernizes our claims appeals process and thereby provides better, faster decisions for Veterans.

The law has received strong, bipartisan praise from lawmakers and Veterans groups. For more information, see here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/08/24/wtas-praise-president-trump-signing-veterans-appeals-improvement-and

Day after day, Holloway said he checks the mail hoping something has changed. He said he is usually met with disappointment.

“Every day I check the mailbox and know it’s got one coming,” he said. “Back when they sent the last one it said they’d put me on a hearing,” Holloway said.

The original interview with Holloway was in October. Just this week, Leah reached out to Holloway again. He said after FOX13 began contacting the VA, someone reached out to him personally. He now has two doctors appointments set up through the VA. His first was Tuesday.

FOX13 still has several unanswered questions for the VA. When we receive those answers, we’ll update this article and air an update.