Veterans sacrificed enough: USA TODAY investigations of VA health care help our heroes

Stanley Christian Jr. piloted helicopter gunships into some of the worst firefights imaginable in Vietnam. His proudest achievement?

“I never lost a man,” said Christian, 73, a retired Army captain who lives in Oklahoma City. “They all came home.”

Over the years, Christian said he turned to the Veteran Affairs hospital as he struggled with health issues. In 2010, Christian had complained to the VA that he felt pain in his upper right jaw. An X-ray then showed no bone behind an upper right tooth. Medical staff said he had chronic gum disease and should brush and floss better.

Four years later, the VA finally discovered the likely cause — thanks to a scan done outside the VA: Christian had an aggressive cyst that had grown to encompass large areas of bone by that time.

“The VA screwed me up bad,” Christian said. “Then Donovan got to asking questions. Why hadn’t this been addressed?”

Christian is referring to USA TODAY reporter Donovan Slack, who covers the VA. She had been investigating complaints of misdiagnoses and subpar medical care at the Oklahoma City VA hospital.

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