N4T Investigators: Purple Heart & red tape - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Purple Heart & red tape

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Benson - "I did my time in the hospital," Mike Archer says, "and I just want the United States government, the VA, or whoever's responsible, I want them to hold up their end of the deal."

Archer was wounded in Vietnam in 1970 when a bomb exploded. He saw two of his fellow Army soldiers who were nearby get killed. "And I got a crease on my shoulder where I got grazed by a bullet and I got shrapnel wounds," he told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

Archer was awarded two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. The 65 year-old Benson resident is disabled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the Veterans Administration is supposed to cover all his medical bills. 

Archer almost died again on April 20 of last year when he rolled his pick-up truck on Highway 90 in Sierra Vista, after a load he was towing came loose. His neck was broken in two places and he was air-lifted to the hospital. Mike says he's OK now physically, but not financially. But he adds, "You don't want to be treated like a circus animal where you have to jump through hoops to get your money."

Mike's medical bills from the crash more than $200,000. While almost most of that has been paid, he said he's received collection notices from the air ambulance company and the hospital, saying the VA had not paid them about $3000.  So Archer paid that.  It's been almost a year since the crash, and he said the VA had not reimbursed him.  'I  want the money," Archer said. " I mean, that's all. I just want my money back. I can't afford three-thousand dollars."

Archer contacted the office of another veteran, Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ). A VA official then sent McSally a letter, saying that Archer's "Payment is  forthcoming if not already received."  That letter was sent on Feb. 13 of this year, two months ago. Archer still hadn't received any reimbursement, so he called the News 4 Tucson Investigators seeking help. 

Archer said, "Everybody watching this interview will understand what I'm talking about. If you work for a factory and you got benefits, hey, you want them taken care of."

After we called McSally's office, they again called the VA this week and were told that Archer's claim was processed on April 7. The VA told us the same thing in an email they sent this morning.

In other words, the check is in the mail, apparently. A year since Archer's accident.

Archer says this entire episode is another reason he thinks veterans of his era and others have been mistreated.  He says, "I just want my benefits. I mean, I held up my end of the deal. Why can't they hold up their end of the deal?"

Since the VA says it recently paid the $3000 that Archer had already paid to the air ambulance company this means they will have been paid twice, and Archer deserves a refund. We will keep track of this to make sure he gets it. 

If you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444. 

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