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Vietnam vet has weeks left to live, blames VA for stall in care

Posted at 8:33 PM, Sep 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-15 23:25:46-04

A local Vietnam veteran has fought the VA for care for more than a year. Now, he's told he has just weeks left to live.

The reality of war was enough for Richard Beyard. He served three tours in Vietnam and was a Prisoner of War for 79 days.

Today, his reality isn't much different.

"If they would've taken care of him in the beginning how they should have, without having to fight all the red tape, he probably wouldn't be as sick as he is right now," Lori Beyard, Richard's wife of 30 years, said.

Lori watches her husband's chest move up and down every day. She wonders which breath will be his last.

"He's holding on because he's worried about what's going to happen to me, he didn't have a life insurance policy in place."

Richard and Lori went into debt paying for his medical expenses, thing's they say the VA wouldn't cover.

A year ago, the Beyard's fought their biggest fight, getting funding from the VA to get Richard a life-saving procedure for his heart.

"They kept saying 'no you have to wait to go to Oklahoma City to get it done, you can't do it here,'" Lori said. "So [I said] lets do it through somebody else at St. Francis because that new law had passed where you can seek care outside the VA."

Lori said the VA took some time approving the funds, so 2 Works for You investigators called Congressman Jim Bridenstine's office, who began immediately looking into the case.

"If it hadn't been for the story being done and for Bridenstine's office, he wouldn't be here now, I guarantee it," Lori said.

Although the procedure bought Richard some time, his health has since declined. His cancer has spread to his brain.

"I'm sure this would've happened eventually, but not at the pace that it has," Lori said.

Bridenstine's office issued this statement.

"As a Congressman, it is a very gratifying part of my job and my staff’s jobs to help people in the 1st District who are having challenges dealing with any agency of the federal government.

"We are very disheartened to hear of Mr. Beyard’s condition. He served his country honorably in Vietnam and unfortunately, as we see with so many of our veterans, has experienced tremendous difficulties in dealing with the VA. Until the VA takes serious action to improve access to care, quality of the patient experience, and trust in their system, our warfighters will continue to endure unnecessary hardships.

"Just this week, the House passed another bill in a series of reforms to improve the VA, most recently the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act, which makes it easier to get rid of bureaucrats that are failing our veterans and overhaul the department’s broken disability benefits appeals process.  The VA has a lot of room for improvement, and Congress is working to advance their responsiveness to the needs of our veterans.  

"Sadly, any improvements will be too late to help Richard Beyard. I will continue to pray for healing for Mr. Beyard and wish the best to him and his family."

2 Works for You reached out to the VA for comment, however officials did not return phone calls.

If you'd like to help the Beyard family during their time of need, donations can be made here.