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Injured Vet Turned Away By VA Hospital In Dallas

By Jack Douglas Jr. & Jason Allen, CBS 11 News
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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jason Allen
Jason came to North Texas after working as a reporter for four y...
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CROWLEY (CBSDFW.COM) – Justin Trivett says he is in excruciating pain. And he certainly looks the part, as he lays flat on the floor, cushioned only by a pool float – in a room that use to be for his newborn child – until his back went completely out.

It is in this corner, inside his home in Crowley, where the ex-Marine spends his hours, within reach of pain pills, still waiting for the Dallas VA Medical Center in Dallas to help him.

So far, after nearly three weeks, the pills are about all Trivett says he has gotten from the Department of Veterans Affairs, despite seeking some sort of relief from the VA’s health care facilities in Dallas, Fort Worth and near Granbury.

“That’s their answer to everything … dope ‘em up and send ‘em out,” the 27-year-old Trivett told CBS 11 News in an exclusive interview.

He said weeks have passed since he was told a VA back specialist would be in contact with him. That didn’t actually occur until an hour after a CBS 11 News team went to the VA hospital in Dallas to ask about Trivett’s care.

A hospital spokesman then followed up by emailing a statement to CBS 11, indicating it did not feel Trivett’s level of pain warranted immediate assistance on the day he went there — assisted by family members because he could not walk into the hospital on his own.

The “VA North Texas Health Care system is committed to providing quality care in a timely manner, based on individual health care needs. It is very important to us that each Veteran receive timely and efficient care,” the statement said.

The last time Trivett went to the VA hospital in Dallas for help, he said he waited as long as eight hours. Then, “they gave me a pain shot, ordered me some meds and sent me on my way,” he said.

Trivett said someone with the medical staff also dismissed his hurt with these words: “It’s just back pain.”

He enlisted in the Marines in 2003. Two years later, while stationed in Afghanistan, he hurt his back while carrying heavy aircraft equipment. Surgery followed in 2007, a year before he was discharged from the Marines.

His said his back nagged him, “but it was just kind of nothing too bad … go to the doctor … stretch …do this … take some Ibuprofen.”

And then about three weeks ago, while playing with his young son, his back went out, a result, he says with certainty, from injuring himself in Afghanistan.

“We went to the Fort Worth VA and got the runaround for two hours …they were finally like, ‘Oh sorry, you have to go to Dallas,’ “ Trivett said.

While sitting the emergency room in Dallas, Trivett said he shared “horror stories of the VA” with other patients waiting to be seen.

“You have to sit there and wait, and you don’t get any care really,” Trivett said, adding, “Whatever’s quickest to get you in and get out, and kind of like on to the next one … that’s all they care about, it seems …

“It’s horrible.”

If you want to reach CBS 11’s Investigative Reporter Jack Douglas Jr.  You can email him at jdouglas@cbs.com. If you want to reach CBS 11’s Jason Allen. You can email him at jmallen@cbs.com.

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