Korean War vet waiting to see dentist at VA hospital hasn't eaten solid food in 5 months

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by Rucks Russell / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 11:14 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 21 at 11:32 AM

HOUSTON -- A Korena War veteran says he has gotten the runaround at the VA hospital.

Phillip Branch lost his dentures months ago and hasn't eaten solid food since.

“I used to eat (chicken) bones like a dog when I had my teeth,” he said.

He hasn’t chewed solid foods since last September, when he lost his dentures in a house fire. The 83-year-old who qualifies for Veterans Affairs assistance, turned to the VA for the help his son said never arrived.

“It’s been five months already,” said John Branch. “How much longer will it take?”

So KHOU 11 News arranged a meeting between the Branches and doctors at the VA Medical Center. It soon became evident that something had fallen through the cracks.

“For whatever reason, the consults were not done,” said Dr. Quindola Crowley, the chief of social work at the medical center. “He will get his dentures and he qualifies.”

Nationwide, there are millions of veterans being funneled through the VA system; tens of thousands in Houston alone. And while complaints about the system are fairly common, hospital administrators say addressing them is a “top priority.”

“We do all we can to fix the situation and to provide the care that is appropriate,” said Bryan Bayley, the VA Medical Center’s deputy director.

They gave Branch a Thursday afternoon appointment to meet with a dentist.

In the meantime, a man who once wore the uniform for his country says he can’t wait to wear some new teeth.

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