Veteran talks VA troubles with lawmakers

WTNH– The News 8 Investigators have been following the trouble at VA hospitals around the country and right here in Connecticut. A lot of vets feel their voices aren’t being heard. Now the News 8 Investigators got their backs.

Earlier Wednesday, News 8 put some local vets face to face with three of the most powerful people in Connecticut so they could get their message across.

Three veterans, three federal lawmakers talking about one Veterans Hospital.

Wednesday night, a focus on just one of those veterans and the story that he tells and the story being written about him.

Joseph Yankauskas is discussed in the latest Inspector General report about the VA hospital in West Haven. It was a surgery that brought him in in the first place.

“They told me I had mianginoma, which is a small tumor that grows off the spine in the brain,” said Joseph Yankauskas .

What happened next donned him the name “Patient B”. He was exposed to Cruetzfeldt-Jacob disease or CJD. It’s a rare but deadly disease that eats away at the brain. He says the VA offered little help.

“I was a nervous wreck. No answers. Vague answers,” said Yankauskas.

Patient B is the name he’s referenced by in the report released Tuesday detailing how widespread exposure inside VA hospitals was.

“I know how I would feel. One, I’d be scared to death and second, I’d be angry as hell,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro.

Yankauskas agreed to tell his story not just to News 8 but to lawmakers in the hopes of getting more help. Because he doesn’t have any symptoms, yet the VA has denied his claims.

“This was outrageous… disgraceful… shameful… people ought to angry about it,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal.

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy joined Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro to talk about his case.

“The IG report says that the VA conducted itself within the standard of care but the standards clearly need to change,” said Murphy.

Their message? Things have improved but there is still more room for improvement.

“I’ll tell you something Joseph… I’m still not convinced that VA facility is complying with the minimum standard of care,” said Blumenthal.

Administration over at the West Haven hospital denied repeated requests to take part in the event. They tell News 8 they are willing to work with any of the veterans we’re talking with.

If you have a story you want the News 8 investigators to look into, give them a call. Their number is 203-402-TIP-8.

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