Army veteran dying of cancer fights for VA benefits

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Army veteran dying of cancer fights for VA benefits
Posted: Feb 26, 2016 5:10 PM CST Updated: Feb 26, 2016 8:19 PM CST
By Ashleigh Barry
An army veteran who is dying from cancer says Veterans Affairs has denied his claim for assistance.
John Marshall’s story is truly heartbreaking. The 31-year-old father of two young children should have his whole life ahead of him, or at least be able to take care of his health in peace. Instead, he says his fight with the VA for benefits has added an element of stress that cannot be ignored.
Looking at him today, awkwardly confined to a wheelchair, relying on an oxygen tank and his feet severely swollen, it’s hard to believe Marshall walked out of war a decorated combat veteran.
“I can’t even tell you what I was exposed to; it was a lot we don’t even know,” said Marshall. The former Army Sergeant has been hospitalized now for several days as he battles complications from a cancer diagnosis 14 months ago. He was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma, something he traces to hours spent over burn pits in Iraq.
Recently, he learned his cancer is terminal. “I don’t have this time and it’s going to be very hard to get it done,” he said as he cried. He’s not only battling the grim prognosis, but also the VA, which he says denied him care. “I just want the benefits for my family and for the kids and that’s why I’m doing this, so it’s just very tough,” he said.
His wife Ashley choked back tears. “It’s hard, it’s hard to talk about,” she said as she recalled the day her husband opened the VA letter, denying him of all benefits, calling his cancer diagnosis a “developmental defect.”
“I never saw him cry and it was very hard seeing that reaction,” she said as he reacted to reading the letter. For his dad, Mike, the denial and watching his son rapidly deteriorate is sometimes just too much to bear. “There is abuse in the system, but he’s not one of them,” he cried.
Marshall and his family will continue to fight, with whatever time they have left. And they are hopeful for change. “The system needs to be fixed in so many ways, so many ways,” said Marshall.
Now, because of the media exposure, and our calls to the VA for answers, Marshall says he has been contacted by the VA and told the claim is now on hold. They say, too little too late.
The family has set up a gofundme page to help with the astronomical medical expenses.
Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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