Disabled Marine veteran says wait times at VA still too long: ‘We did our job … please just do yours’

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MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wash. -- When men and women sign up to fight for the  country, many expect that they will receive good treatment when they return home.

However, one family said their recent experience at the VA Hospital is showing them otherwise.

After serving eight years in the Marine Corps and three tours in Iraq, Sgt. Daniel Buck has good days and bad.

“It was his job to make sure the convoys didn’t run over IEDs,” his wife, Elizabeth Buck, said of the hidden explosive devices along roads in Iraq. “Everywhere my husband goes and he sees garbage on the side of the roads, automatically he goes back there.”

Tuesday, July 28, was one of the bad days when Daniel came to his wife expressing suicidal thoughts.

“I just held him. We just kind of fell to the floor, and I just held him and we just cried together,” said Elizabeth.

It was a threat so real they headed to the ER at the VA Puget Sound. After hours of evaluation, they said, doctors allowed Daniel to return home but with follow-up checkups recommended.

However, the Bucks said when it came to scheduling those visits, the dates kept getting pushed back.

They said this was alarming, especially because when it comes to mental illness, every second could be the difference between life or death.

It’s why the Bucks are sharing their story to shed light on what they say is an experience many veterans are facing today. They hope bringing awareness will prompt change.

After hours on the phone, Elizabeth managed to get Daniel an appointment nine days after his ER visit, but it’s not the kind of thanks they hoped to receive after nearly a decade of serving the country.

“We shouldered up, we did our job, and please just do yours,” said Daniel.

A VA of Puget Sound representative said it can’t comment on individual cases, but said with a mental health patient, the wait time in this region is on average 1.2 days, compared to a 5-6 day average nationwide.

The regional Veterans Affairs agencies is holding an event Wednesday to review the successes and challenges of the past year, since Bob McDonald took over as the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.