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By Aaron Kunkler
The Lewis County Chronicle 

Top stories of 2017: Vet's cancer turns terminal while waiting for treatment

 

January 3, 2018



Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, has sent a letter to U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald asking him to launch an investigation into the department’s handling of former Chehalis area veteran John Weston.

Weston, who died in December, and his son Maxx Weston told The Chronicle just before his death that delayed cancer treatment led to a decline in his health that he could not overcome.

John Weston was a Vietnam veteran who lived in the Chehalis area, and both he and his son said he was diagnosed last summer with liver cancer. After transferring from the Seattle Veterans Affairs office to the Portland branch, they said it took three months before an appointment was finally scheduled.

By that time, the Westons said, the tumor had grown from a treatable condition into a terminal one.

John Weston spoke with The Chronicle before his death, and the subsequent story prompted Herrera Beutler’s office to look into the case, according to a press release from the congresswoman.

Both John and Maxx Weston felt the long wait time had led to John Weston’s condition rapidly deteriorating, a phenomena which he felt many other veterans were subjected to as well.

“There’s far too many of us, that’s for sure. It’s kind of an embarrassment I think,” John Weston told The Chronicle in November. “We deal with the hand we’ve been dealt I suppose … I just don’t want to see this happen to anyone else.”

In the letter, Herrera Beutler questioned why it took three months for John Weston to schedule an appointment.

“I am requesting an internal investigation into Mr. Weston’s case to determine how this happened—particularly in light of a years-long effort by the U.S. Congress to force the VA to eliminate wait times, fraud, neglect and data manipulation that have resulted in poor care that has cost veterans like Mr. Weston their lives,” her letter read.

Weston’s son said on Monday that he had been in contact with Herrera Beutler’s office.

Maxx Weston approached The Chronicle with his father’s story last fall and it was ultimately printed one week after his father’s death in an article titled “‘I Paid My Price:’ Chehalis Veteran Who Died This Week Slips Through Cracks in the VA System.”

 

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