Veteran fights for full health coverage
Fox 4 News Staff
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. - A retired veteran is turning to Fox 4 saying he's being slighted by the government.
For 14 years, Billy Thoelke, 38, served his country.
"I spent a lot of time in the jungle, i drank nasty water and didn't get a normal diet," said Thoelke.
Sacrifices Thoelke says has caused lasting effects on his health. He's had stomach five surgeries.
"I have so many staples i can't go through a metal detector right now," said Thoelke.
He was medically retired from the navy in August 2009.
But it's the date on his official discharge form that's wrong. It says 2007, a time before his stomach problems worsened. Because of this discrepancy, Thoelke hasn't received full Tricare health benefits and his family isn't covered.
"I don't know where to go from here,"said Thoelke. "I don't know how to make 'em, make the navy respond."
He's tried. Three years ago, he had a hearing before the Board of Veterans Appeals to increase his benefits. The board said it couldn't make a decision until the discharge date is fixed.
"/They're not there to help me," said Thoelke. "They're there to stonewall me."
In an email, a spokesperson for the US Department of Veterans Affairs wrote the following:
"Mr. Thoelke’s remand was completed and recertified back to the Board of Veterans Appeals on February 7, 2013. We do not have information at this time regarding when Mr. Thoelke will receive a decision for the Board of Veterans Appeals and we would need to contact the Board of Veterans Appeals for a response."
"It's frustrating," said Dan Ashby, the President of the National Coalition of Patriots.
An outcome Ashby says is insulting.
"We're playing government politics with somebody's health and it shouldn't be that way," added Ashby.