• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 5s

Veteran shares story of prolonged wait at Alaska VA

By KTVA Alaska 8:51 AM June 13, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

“I was unable to do anything for myself,” said U.S. Air Force veteran James Rhodes. “Even opening the door to go outside, I had someone to do everything.”

It’s been 20 years of steady decline that Rhodes, who served in Operation Desert Storm, said was brought on by his will to serve his country and his duties maintaining military jets.

“While we’re repairing them, fuel is just coming out pouring all over us,” Rhodes said.

Endless hours soaked in Jet Propellant Four — or JP4 — which has been proven to cause nervous system disorders, would  begin to take hold within a couple of years.

Rhodes served from Nov. 26, 1990 to Dec. 7, 1992 and said he began to notice a tremor near the end of his service. That, according to him, was just the beginning.

“Memory loss. I was tested in the Air Force with 197 IQ and eidetic memory. It’s not there anymore,” Rhodes said. “It’s not there anymore.”

The loss of memory, the growing pain and overall loss of Rhodes’ ability to function sent him to the Department of Veterans Affairs month after month, year after year. According to Rhodes, his cries fell on deaf ears at the VA in the Lower 48 for more than a decade.

Then, in 2012, he and his wife Debra moved to Anchorage, where they were hoping things would be different.

“I had heard really good things,” Debra said. “That’s not what we experienced.”

An audit conducted by the VA in May 2014 states that the average waiting time for a new patient to see a primary care doctor in Anchorage was around 29 days. It also stated that no patient waited more than 120 days for an appointment.

“Not by my math,” Rhodes said in response to those findings.

Rhodes said he had been given the run-around at the Alaska VA from September of 2012 until October of 2013.

Then, when Rhodes  finally made it in to see a doctor, he said doctors blamed his illnesses  on stress — and nothing more.

“If anyone thinks our wait times to see a doctor are the only problem with the VA, they’re fools,” Rhodes said.

The Alaska VA did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Meanwhile, Rhodes said the only reason his 13-month wait ended in October 2013 was due to the efforts of Sen. Mark Begich and his staffers who contacted the VA directly on Rhodes’ behalf.

Rhodes is now waiting to find out from the VA if he can receive treatment for JP4 exposure in Washington State.

Latest Stories

  • News

    King of Norway visits Alaska

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 27, 8:50

    King Harald V of Norway kicked off his first royal visit to the state in Homer. Tuesday morning, about 100 people welcomed him to Homer near the harbor, including an elderly woman who is 102 years old. His majesty is on a tour of the Pacific Northwest, which includes stops in Washington and Alaska. Tuesday, he spent […]

  • News

    Troopers: Man severely injured in Mat-Su shooting

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 27, 7:56

    Authorities are investigating a Mat-Su Valley shooting that left a man with life-threatening injuries early Wednesday morning. Based on initial reports, a group of men went to the shooter’s home in the Butte “causing a disturbance,” according to an online dispatch from Alaska State Troopers. When the group would not leave, the resident of the […]

  • News

    APD: Hit-and-run driver nabbed

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 27, 7:29

    The driver responsible for a severe hit-and-run crash Tuesday night was found Wednesday morning, authorities say. The crash happened around 8 p.m. Tuesday at the intersection of C Street and Dimond Boulevard, according to the Anchorage Police Department. Police say a silver Dodge Stratus ran a red light and struck a blue Chevrolet SUV. The driver […]

  • Politics

    New bill would move billions out of Permanent Fund reserve

    by Kate McPherson on May 27, 7:10

    In a move that signals budget negotiations are failing, a bill was introduced Tuesday that would allow the Republican-led majority in the House to go around the Democrats to access the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR). The Democratic coalition in the House is holding off on voting yes to using the CBR until some of their […]

  • News

    East Anchorage trailer park development project put on hold

    by Lauren Maxwell on May 26, 18:13

    A project to turn an East Anchorage trailer park into upscale housing has been put on hold. Phase one of the project at the Riviera Terrace Mobile Home Park off of Boniface Parkway was supposed to start this summer. But owner and developer Cameron Johnson says contamination from an old heating fuel spill is worse […]

  • Crime

    UPDATE: Police release video in May 17 Fairbanks homicide

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 26, 17:18

    Updated May 26, 5:15 p.m. Fairbanks police have released video from the May 17 homicide of John D. Kavairlook, Jr. FPD is seeking the public’s help in identifying the three men shown in the video below — sought in connection with the events surrounding Kavairlook’s death. Anyone who can identify the individuals in the video is asked […]

  • Crime

    Fairbanks man arrested for trying to set occupied home on fire

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 26, 14:45

    A 52-year-old man was arrested on assault and attempted arson charges after he tried to set an occupied home on fire early Monday morning, authorities say. Around 4 a.m. Monday, Alaska State Troopers received a 911 call ”reporting an individual pouring gasoline around an occupied structure,” an online dispatch says. The home is located off Chena […]

  • News

    AST: Human remains recovered believed to be missing Kotlik child

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 26, 11:31

    Human remains found in a large, water-filled hole in the village of Kotlik Sunday are believed to be those of a 4-year-old child who went missing last year, authorities say. Last May, the Kotlik Police Department notified Alaska State Troopers in Emmonak that a 4-year-old boy in the village had not returned home after playing […]