• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
News Alert: Latest updates on McHugh Creek Fire - Read More
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

    Deadly bombing strikes demonstration in Kabul

    by CBS/AP on Jul 23, 17:39

    At least 80 people were killed and another 231 wounded in the Afghan capital on Saturday, when suicide bombers detonated their explosives-packed clothing among a large crowd of demonstrators, officials and witnesses said. In a statement issued by its news agency, Aamaq, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, claimed responsibility for the attack […]

  • News

    Firefighters on McHugh Creek Fire confident with progress

    by Eric Ruble on Jul 23, 17:27

    After nearly half an inch of rainfall, sunshine returned to the area of the McHugh Creek Fire Saturday. It remains roughly 815 acres in size, but is now 15 percent contained, according to officials. It was seven percent contained Friday. More than 300 firefighters have been working on the McHugh Creek Fire. Many of them […]

  • News

    Woman drove for days in Alaska with husband’s body in casket

    by Associated Press on Jul 23, 15:18

    A woman who drove her husband’s body on a days-long traveling wake in Alaska and used ice from canneries to keep him cold is not accused of breaking any laws. Officers responded to a call last week to find the body of a 78-year-old man inside an aluminum transport casket. Ketchikan Police Chief Alan Bengaard […]

  • News

    Police: Bicyclist injured in crash with vehicle

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jul 23, 13:35

    Updated at 3:25 p.m. on Saturday, July 23 A bicyclist was injured and transported to a nearby hospital after a collision with a vehicle Saturday afternoon. The incident was reported to police at the intersection of Eagle Street and 23rd Avenue around 12:48 p.m., according to an Anchorage dispatcher. The driver remained at the scene of the […]

  • News

    McHugh Creek Fire: Positive prognosis from fire official

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jul 23, 11:23

    [RELATED: Updates: McHugh Creek Fire 7 percent contained at 815 acres] Last updated at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 23 The McHugh Creek Fire was 15 percent contained as of Saturday morning, incident commander Tom Kurth said at a Saturday morning community meeting. Roughly 330 firefighting personnel were battling the blaze, which was holding at 815 […]

  • News

    Silver Alert: Missing Kenai man believed to be in danger

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jul 23, 10:17

    Last updated at 11:50 a.m. on Saturday, July 23 ANCHORAGE — The Alaska Department of Public Safety and the Alaska Division of Homeland Security have initiated a Silver Alert for a missing 81-year-old man, who is believed to be in danger. The Kenai Police Department reported Oscar Rookard was last seen at his residence at […]

  • Lifestyle

    State health officials investigate salmonella illnesses in Bethel area

    by Charles Enoch / KYUK on Jul 23, 9:50

    This story originated from KYUK Public Media and was republished with permission BETHEL — The Alaska Division of Public Health is investigating salmonella infections in the Bethel area. A team is in Bethel to track down the source of the infection. Louisa Castrodale is an epidemiologist with the state’s Public Health division. “It’s not even the end […]

  • News

    Alasks State Trooper dispatch neglects a report for weeks

    by Davis Hovey / KNOM on Jul 23, 9:44

    On Friday afternoon, family and friends gathered to celebrate the life of local Nome resident John Penetac, Jr. The 51-year-old passed away on July 6. The cause of death is unknown. Earlier Friday morning, around 11:30am, an Alaska State Trooper dispatch reported a deceased man’s body being found near the area known as Cavota Pond. […]