The best medical plan
no veterans know about
San Pedro, CA -- It's upsetting to read the allegations in the news about secret wait lists, cover-ups, shabby treatment, premature deaths and a culture of apathy permeating the Department of Veterans Affairs.
What's equally upsetting is letting veterans suffer and die with either no or minimal treatment even though a qualified medical team is standing by and eager to treat them.
For months now, patients and advocates (including Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.)) have been entreating former Secretary Shinseki and Under Secretary Petzel to simply notify patients and doctorswithin the vast VA network of the world-class treatment available to veterans suffering from mesothelioma as a result of service-related asbestos exposure. Now with the recent confirmation of VA Secretary Robert McDonald, veterans are optimistic of the changes being proposed but their trust has been undeniably compromised.
About a year ago, the VA Medical Center in West Los Angeles, California approved (but did not budget) the Admiral Zumwalt Mesothelioma Treatment Program. The program is headed up by Dr. Robert Cameron, a well-respected thoracic surgeon who has dedicated his life to the rational treatment of pleural mesothelioma, a cancer which disproportionately impacts US service veterans.
Dr. Cameron and his crew are eager to treat veterans. Unfortunately, despite multiple requests and promises, the VA has yet to perform the simple administrative task of updating its website and other social media about the existence of the program--notices that would alert veterans suffering from mesothelioma to the high quality treatment which is available to them. Neither the VA nor West LA VA websites even mention the program.
The mesothelioma treatment team at the West LA VA Medical Center would love to have a list of veterans to treat. But there's no list, no waiting list and no effort to educate our war heroes stricken with asbestos cancer that help is available.
According to the popular literature, about 4,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. Of those, roughly a third were exposed to asbestos while serving in the Navy. It's not a stretch to surmise that at least 600 Navy veterans are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year--a diagnosis that carries a nine month life expectancy with no treatment and 11-12 months with chemotherapy only.
Mesothelioma is a rare disease and few doctors are either interested or qualified to treat it with the full arsenal of options available. It's a beautiful thing that a world-renowned surgeon like Dr. Cameron is willing to treat veterans, but it's sad that the VA has done nothing to help educate patients about his extraordinary talents.
Secretary McDonald, the request is simple: Will you please educate veterans and all caregivers within the VA system that the Zumwalt Mesothelioma Treatment Program is alive and well and eager to provide prompt, world-class treatment to veterans suffering from mesothelioma (without placing them on a long list!).
With new reports of the VA medical system's failures capturing headlines every day, what better time to finally bring attention to an area where the VA has gotten it right!
For more information, please contact Worthington & Caron (http://www.mesothel.com/) or 800-831-9399.