Valley vet wants to use $2.5 million legal victory to improve care at Phoenix VA

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U.S. Army veteran Steve Cooper won his lawsuit against the Phoenix VA last week. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) U.S. Army veteran Steve Cooper won his lawsuit against the Phoenix VA last week. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The Coopers said it's their mission now to help veterans get the right care they need. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The Coopers said it's their mission now to help veterans get the right care they need. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Steve Cooper hugged veterans after the ruling. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Steve Cooper hugged veterans after the ruling. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The case is over, U.S. Army veteran Steve Cooper insists his fight to improve the lives of vets has just begun.

"Veterans now understand you can sue the VA through the government for malpractice, and if you do it, it will be taken seriously," said Cooper.

Last week, the Valley veteran with stage 4 prostate cancer won a landmark ruling in federal court.

A judge awarded Cooper $2.5 million for his medical malpractice lawsuit against the Phoenix VA Medical Center.

[READ MORE: Court awards Valley veteran $2.5 Million in medical malpractice suit]

A nurse practitioner failed to recommend further testing for Cooper, after spotting some abnormalities during a prostate exam.

Sunday night, the Coopers sat down to talk about the case and what it means.

The trial was the first stemming from the VA scandal a few years ago that exposed widespread delays in patient care and treatment, leading to the deaths of dozens of vets.

"It's not about more veterans being able to file lawsuits. It's about veterans having better quality of care in the future," said Cooper's wife, Rima.

[RELATED: Dying Valley vet who filed lawsuit against Phoenix VA testifies]

Since the ruling last week, the Coopers have been flooded with e-mails from fellow veterans telling them about similar health care nightmares still going on at the VA today.

 "One lady that's going to lose her leg because of a simple toe infection," said Rima. "It's really heartbreaking."

[Special section: VA hospital troubles]

The Coopers have made it their mission to use their legal victory to help change the way veterans are treated at the VA.

"The veterans deserve the best quality care possible, and right now they're not getting great quality care," said Steve. "I'll fight to my last breath to make sure they get private sector care. Anything less is unacceptable to us."

Steve has been told he has less than five years to live.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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Jason Barry
Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

Click to learn more about Jason.

Jason Barry

Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

He is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports, which highlight local restaurants with major health code violations.

Jason was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Miami.

An avid sports fan, Jason follows the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns with his wife, Karen, and son, Joshua.

His favorite stories to cover are the station’s Pay it Forward segments, which reward members of the community with $500 for going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty to help others.

Jason, started his career at WBTW-TV in Florence, SC before moving to WALA-TV in Mobile, AL, was named the Associated Press Reporter of the Year in 2002.

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