Sarasota, Florida -- As we remember the men and women who have served and died for our country this Memorial Day, many vets are still fighting for benefits and delayed hospital care.
"Hey, guys, quick! Look this way," said photographer David Taylor as he used his camera to capture memories of a veteran riding in Sarasota's Memorial Day Parade down Main Street.
But this Vietnam vet and Purple Heart recipient would rather forget about his days 43 years ago in Cambodia and his 10 months at Walter Reed Hospital. Taylor said, "For 10 months, I got to stare at the horrors of war it still lives with me. These guys still haunt my mind."
Taylor said Veterans Affairs will not recognize his post-traumatic stress disorder and, if that' s not upsetting enough, he said the VA scandal makes him even angrier. "In the beginning, they threatened us if we didn't go, and then it's kind of like they crumble you up and throw you down, say, 'Thank you very much' and 'I'm done with you.' They have not given us the support like they had promised many years ago," he said.
"This is the tip of the iceberg I think, unfortunately," said U.S. Congressman Vern Buchanan (R). Buchanan thinks the VA's problems are more "widespread" than led to believe.
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Buchanan said, "I served on the Veterans Affairs committees for four years. We had back logs then. I didn't know anything about hidden lists. The combination of hidden lists and back log, well, enough is enough. We need to change leadership. "
Buchanan is among the first congressmen to call for the VA secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation. "I think he means well but is in over his head."
Taylor said the whole department needs to clean house and start over. He said, "We need to get fresh blood in there. We need to get people who are familiar with what we've gone through."
Georgie Alfano Cronk said she served in the Army and waited 33 years to receive her benefits. She too said the VA needs new leadership. "I think the system needs to be revamped. Instead of having a large administration section, they need to speak directly to the vets, but they keep putting the vets off. That's not acceptable."
As the VA scandal continues to unfold, congressional leaders and vets say the focus now needs to be on getting vets the benefits they deserve and are long-overdue.
Buchanan said, "I think what we should do now is work out a deal with hospitals -- we have great hospitals here in Florida and around the country -- and make sure the vets are taking care of immediately."
Taylor said he just wants what he and other vets were promised. He said, "We fought for this country. We want what you told us you were going to give us. Give us back our lives."