Congressman comes to Florida, wants answers from VA about mistreated veteran

News Channel 8

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Alarmed by an 8 On Your Side investigation of a veteran mistreated by the VA, Florida Congressman Gus Bilirakis made a beeline to his home state to get answers and offer help.

The Pinellas County Representative wants to know why VA doctors couldn’t figure out what is wrong with veteran Mike Henry.

“This is a veteran, we’ve got to give him the best possible treatment you can get,” Congressman Bilirakis stated.

Last week, 8 On Your Side revealed Henry languished in pain for months under VA care.

That changed quickly when Henry visited Tampa General Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a neurological disorder within an hour.

Henry suffers from a condition in which nerve cells in his brain trigger uncontrollable muscle contractions in his face, neck and shoulder.

It causes intense pain and swelling.

“It actually feels like somebody has a knife, a steak knife in here, and they’re just slowly twisting,” Henry said as he pointed to his temple.

According to Henry, one Bay Pines doctor called him a faker and accused him of being after drugs.

“Then he grabs me right here, my neck was swollen and he’s shaking me around.  And then I said, ‘what are you doing? Are you crazy?’ He goes, ‘oh you’re talking normal now, you’re just a faker, I told you that’s what you were,'” Henry recalled.

Henry explained what he experienced at the VA’s C. W. Bill Young Medical Center at Bay Pines to Congressman Bilirakis.

“We want to help them. I told them I’ll help them, whether they want to stay with the VA at Bay Pines or transfer possibly to Haley or get private care, I’m here to help,” Congressman Bilirakis said.

The home visit left Mike and Shelly hopeful, especially since Bilirakis offered one of his staff to accompany Mike.

“He would like to go with Mike to his next VA appointment and he’s going to follow up with us,” Shelly Henry added.

Henry has a medical background. He hopes to sit with the VA to discuss mistakes he thinks the Bay Pines made.

“Then maybe that would let them know, ‘ah ha, maybe this is something we need to look at,'” Henry explained.

The Henrys are thankful someone is watching out for them.

“I will be forever grateful for you guys for doing this and hopefully you guys aren’t just covering my case, you’ll help some of the other veterans and let the people know they have a voice,” Henry added.

“You have been wonderful,” Shelly Henry said. “Thank you so much, I really hope this helps other veterans.

Now that a Congressman is watching over Mike Henry’s case, he is hopeful a more meaningful dialogue will take place with Bay Pines about his care and treatment.

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