Mid-South Veterans Share Hospital Horror Stories

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(Memphis) Now that there is a congressional investigation into Memphis' VA hospital, fed-up veterans want their voices heard.

A group of Memphis vets and their families shared their experiences at the VA.

The meeting comes after investigations revealed errors by VA staff contributed to three deaths.

From hateful comments from doctors to inadequate care, veterans and their loved ones took turns exchanging horror stories they say they experienced at the Memphis VA hospital.

"Because they didn't act on the severity of my case, I had to have 18 inches of my intestine removed," one vet said.

He didn't want to be identified, but said he went without food in his hospital room for three days.

"I didn't get fed. It was just ice chips."

He survived to tell his story.

Stephanie Davis' fiancé did not.

Melvin Lesure arrived at the hospital swollen. Doctors said it was a cheese allergy.

"They told him he would be alright," she said.

A few days later, he was dead.

Hospital records show he didn’t have an allergy -- he had MRSA.

“If they would have tested his blood work they would have seen he had MRSA,” Davis said.

Now her family, like so many others, wants answers.

"We want to know what happened,” she said. “Why they didn't keep him? Why they didn't treat him.”

While they look for closure, veteran Randy Wade hopes this meeting opens the eyes of lawmakers.

They hired a camera crew to record the vets' stories so they could be shared with lawmakers.

“'We refuse absolutely to be mistreated by veterans admin or VA hospital so we're serving notice our voices will be heard,” Wade said.

A new fight for old and young vets alike to get the care they deserve.

Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks was at the meeting Tuesday night.

She said these stories were horrible, and unacceptable and she will do whatever she can on the local level to hold the VA accountable.


  • Pam DeWig-Mattox

    I lost my dad on November 19th after a two week stay at the VA. He has been in and out of that hospital for a year due to a heart condition. This past stay I was disgusted by the staff, the cleanliness (there was none) and never seeing a Dr. They did not change his bed sheets, did not bathe him or change his pajama’s. He was not eating and refused to give him an IV so he could get some sort of nutrients. The staff all looked like they came right off the streets of Memphis. One nurse, who did not look like a nurse was changing batteries in a heart monitor, broke a nail, stated she did so and proceeded to remove the broken nail right over my dads bed. We then had him transferred to Methodist Germantown who did so much for him and treated him with the respect he deserved until he passed away, I am totally disgusted that our Vets are treated this way and sit back and watch all these low lives sit and collect money or assistance they do not deserve or have worked for. I know there are exceptions, but this is being abused and everyone knows it. Then we have to set up funds or charities to take care of our vets. What the hell is wrong with this picture? The VA is not a hospital but a big concrete building with every low life they can staff. I can go on and on because of my anger and disgust for this facility but it could get uglier and won’t bring my dad back.

    • James Jones

      Pam I feel your pain. I am a Air Force veteran who suffers from a heart condition. After more than 2 years in and out of the Memphis VA Hospital and their emergency room, I actually had to leave the Memphis VA and get treated at Sterns Cardiology simply because I could NEVER see a cardiologist at the VA. Only medical students and nurses. It was discovered that I needed a heart transplant. It was also determined that I needed a left heart valve repair or replacement which should have been done 2 YEARS ago! According to doctors, it is now too late for the procedure. I have been to several different VA hospitals all over the world but the Memphis VA is by far the worst that I’ve encountered.

      • Pam DeWig-Mattox

        Hi James, First let me say thank you for your service. And second I am so very sorry that this happened to you as well. Please do some further research regarding your valve replacement because there are many cardiologists that are willing to do this procedure even if its high risk. My dad had a valve repair back in 1994 which normally could last 10 years before he would have to go with a replacement. I have to say that Sutherland cardiology is by far the best group that not only tried to save my dad, but also took care of my husband who now has 7 stents in place. I hate this happens to our vets and totally un-nerves me. They deserve far better than this because its our vets that allow us to voice our opinions and keep our freedom (so far anyway). God bless you James and I sincerely hope that you find that something can be done for you.

  • Margie

    It is VERY strange that these veterans have had this treatment. My husband is a veteran and has had exceptional treatment at the VA facility and my son, who has PTSD, brain trauma and numerous other issues has also had beautiful treatment at the Memphis VA. He moved from another state and came to Memphis VA and his treatment improved GREATLY. Personally, I have been to a CIVILIAN hospital recently, had rude nurses, matters overlooked by staff over and over, awful food, etc.

    Why are we ONLY searching for poor staffing procedures and overlooking illnesses at the VA. Has anyone bothered to check on civilian hospitals (I won’t name them) who have as bad, if not worse, treatment?

    I think this is a case of veterans who did not get the service-related compensation they were looking for and are finding their own way of retaliating.

    • bmw120

      I am aware of other horror stories about the VA hospital. I think a back ally abortion dr would have treated these vets better than the VA and they would have received better medical treatment.

  • Sean C Higgins

    Before you write…. you should think about how you would feel if your loved one died because some idiot did not do his or her job. You are an exception to the rule of great care in the VA system. As for your unsensitive statement until its happend to you…you won’t say a thing. As for what the VA is not doing just read the horror stories throughout the country on unnecessary deaths because some knucklehead did not do the job that they were paid for. The problems we have is that people die in all hospitals…but when errors are preventable and then they try and cover up those errors its a problem. Consider yourself lucky that you have recieved the excellent care that you have.

  • not sure

    I go to the VA biloxi, the staff there treat people great, there are some in the ER that treat Vets like dirt, some act like why are you bothering me. My experience at the VA Memphis the year was 1994 and I had went to the ER several time there diagnoses was urinary infection, come on i was on antibotics for a month and I could not urinate and the Dr’s finally made an appointment with urology but they only had a slot for a month from now. So in the mean time my difficulty urinating became worse and my bladder swole up so bad it almost burst, I had to be taken by ambulance to the med i spent 5 days in the hosipital and found out i had a stricture and would require dialating for the rest of my life. Some of the VA doctors in the Er are idiots and they must have got there license from a cracker jack box.

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