Veteran's family says he died waiting for VA care


by Jared Dillingham

Bio | Email | Follow: @JaredDillingham

Posted on April 23, 2014 at 9:39 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 24 at 5:35 AM

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Merlin "Bud" Hill served in the military during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War but as his health declined, his family says the VA was not there for him.

"It was devastating. My dad was a hero," his daughter, Tammi Sbordoni, told 3TV.

As Hill was struggling with dementia and many other illnesses, his family turned to the VA for help. Sbordoni said her father was house-bound and required more care than she could give.

The family provided a stack of documents, which they believe more than justified VA assistance.  Eventually, the agency agreed to provide a hearing aid and wrote a check for post-traumatic stress disorder, but refused to provide in-home care.

"We appealed, filled out more paperwork, then waited and waited for a response," Sbordoni recalled. "I kept telling them, 'Time is not on my dad's side.' "

Documents and testimony from Hill's primary care doctor proved insufficient and the VA denied the family again.

The appeals and denials lasted two years. In August 2013, two months after the family's final appeal, Hill passed away.

"I just think my dad deserved more than he received (from the VA)," Sbordoni said.

Phoenix VA hospital under fire for alleged delayed medical care

McCain, Flake call for investigation into Phoenix VA