AL veteran says he's gotten runaround from VA for 3 years - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

AL veteran says he's gotten runaround from VA for 3 years

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The Birmingham VA has followed through on its promise to contact an Alex City veteran after he was featured on WSFA 12 News Thursday.

John Buono, 33, told WSFA 12 News he suffers from two bulging discs in his back, and he's had multiple appointments cancelled.

Buono said the VA contacted him Friday morning and wants him to see the same doctor he says made fun of him during a rare appointment. Buono said he hadn't decided what he'll do for now.

Buono says the pain never stops.

"It hurts to walk," said Buono. "It hurts to get out of bed."

Buono spent six years in the Air Force. He showed WSFA 12 News paperwork he says clearly shows he's been getting the runaround at the Birmingham VA Hospital.

Buono says he needs surgery but the problem is his appointments keep getting rescheduled, one cancellation after another by the Birmingham VA, another long wait to see a neurosurgeon.

"It's a lack of management," Buono said. "This didn't start when the Phoenix case blew up. It's been going on for decades."

In November, this military vet had enough. He fired off a letter to the Birmingham VA director accusing the neurosurgery department of being "extremely negligent" about his care. Buono says he never got a response.

The VA told WSFA 12 News late Thursday that its staff is dedicated and takes any concerns from a veteran seriously.

"We don't believe it's an issue of delayed care. We review cases daily especially in the areas of neurosurgery," said VA Spokesman Jeff Hester.

Hester said the hospital will have its Patient Advocate Team contact Buono to get to the bottom of the issue.

Despite all this, John Buono has no regrets serving in the military. He says he met a lot of friends and saw the world. He wouldn't change a thing.

"I'm proud that I served my country," Buono said.

As a former military man, Buono says he never thought one of his greatest battles would be on the home front. A mere hour from his home in Alex City, and has been three years and counting.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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