Dying Iraq war vet says VA denied claim over missed appointments while he was hospitalized

Sergeant John Marshall (right) in an undated photo.

John Marshall is a 31 year-old Army veteran has been diagnosed with terminal cancer after he spent hours over burn pits in Iraq.

Marshall claims he was exposed to the smoke of everything from burning disabled bombs to lithium batteries.  Marshall has told Fox News in an exclusive that he is facing death because the VA has abandoned him.

Fox reports, “Marshall said agency officials don’t believe his cancer has anything to do with his service to the nation, and that he missed mandatory appointments last year while he was hospitalized with pneumonia and battling post-traumatic stress disorder.”

A Public Affairs Officer (PAO) at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs told Popular Military she was not aware of a veteran by the last name of Marshall speaking with the media.  But Fox News reports “A Veterans Affairs spokesperson contacted by FoxNews.com said the agency could take a fresh look at Marshall’s case, and hopes to speak with him soon.”

The Phoenix VA PAO said that the VA spokesperson could have been from the “big VA” (Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters).

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Marshall says his VA claim, that his cancer was service related, was denied because he missed mandatory appointments while being hospitalized for Pneumonia.

He told Fox, “They said I was denied because I didn’t have enough evidence…They forced my claims through. They denied everything.”

Marshall believes that his scar tissue sarcoma is directly related to providing security for Explosive Ordinance Units while they disposed of explosives in burn pits.

An undated photo of the Marshall family. Photo Credit: GoFundMe
An undated photo of the Marshall family. Photo Credit: GoFundMe

In October of 2013 the United States Government Accountability Office released a report titled, “DOD Should Improve Adherence to Its Guidance on Open Pit Burning and Solid Waste Management.”

The opening statement of the report reads: “The military has relied heavily on open pit burning in both conflicts, and operators of burn pits have not always followed relevant guidance to protect servicemembers from exposure to harmful emissions.”

The report claims that the data in VA and DOD studies is too limited to understand the health impacts on servicemembers.  It even goes as directly correlating the burn pits with long-term health issues.

VA spokesperson, Ndidi Mojay, told Fox, “Foremost, we would want to look into what happened to understand the details in this particular case and see how we can help.”

It may be too late for Marshall to receive treatment but thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans could possibly face a similar outcome if the health effects of burn pits are not further addressed or studied.

John Marhsall’s wife, Ashley, has set up a GoFundMe page for financial support.

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