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Veteran Shares IC VA Success Story

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- New information shows almost 1,000 veterans in Iowa and Nebraska are still waiting for an appointment at one of three facilities in the region.

A report out Monday says over the last decade, 987 vets tried to get appointments and have still not been seen. 107 of those appointment requests are at the Iowa City VA

Nationwide, nearly 57,000 veterans have been waiting three months or more for medical appointments.

While the numbers are disturbing, there also are some glimpses of hope. One corridor veteran wanted us to let everyone know how the Iowa City VA has helped him.

For Orlando Smith, It comes down to faith - faith in God, faith in his country, and faith in the system.

"I definitely feel that if the VA hadn't taken care of me, I wouldn't be standing here talking to you," he says.

Smith served in the Army from 1982 to 1986. He's been receiving annual checkups from the VA since 2003.

"They always take care of me," Smith says.

Those check-ups came in handy. Last November, during one of those visits, a biopsy on Smith revealed prostate cancer.

"Surgery was in February, and in March I developed a blood clot," he says. "I was let known that if it bursts and goes into your lungs...you could die."

Smith says quick action by VA doctors saved his life twice. As recent investigations nationwide have shown however, not every vet had received the same care.

"There's been any type of manipulation of schedules or manipulation of records, that to me is a criminal matter," says New York congressman Peter King.

The alleged abuse has King and other law makers - including Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley - demanding answers.

"We have to change the culture of these agencies," Grassley says.

On the other hand, there is Smith, who says the system has never failed him.

"I never waited more than the allotted time that was given for these appointments."

While he hopes for a quick resolution for veterans nationwide, his faith in Iowa's VA system - the one that saved his life - is unwavering.

"Your relatives that are veterans here in the state of Iowa...they will be well taken care of."
 
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