Press Release

Veteran’s Nightmarish Journey Puts Focus on Broken VA System

Of the hundreds of veterans who have contacted the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) with personal stories of poor treatment and delayed services, the case of Steven P. Massong exemplifies how the massive bureaucracy of the Department of Veterans Affairs has failed the very people it was set up to help.

Today, POGO published an in-depth case study of Massong’s nightmarish journey through the VA system, from an operating room in California to the board that decides appeals of disability claims.

In 2005, Massong went into a VA hospital in Loma Linda, California, for a straightforward vascular procedure on his left leg but ended up with much of his right foot and scrotum removed. In the years that followed, Massong’s fruitless attempt to receive related VA disability benefits shows how claims can get tied up in a seemingly endless bureaucratic cycle.

While many of the whistleblower tips that POGO received expressed exasperation and despair with the VA system, Massong’s case stood out because of the long paper trail that backed up much of his story and spotlighted how federal law limits malpractice suits against the VA, thereby insulating the agency from a source of accountability.

“What happened to Mr. Massong medically is a tragedy made much worse because of the bureaucratic barriers that prevent him—and countless other veterans—from getting the benefits they deserve,” POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian said. “Our VA system is broken. Mr. Massong’s story is another wake-up call for this administration.”

Follow the link to read, POGO’s report on Steven Massong.