Health care is a hot topic, especially when it comes to those who have served our country. A local veteran seeking surgery reported to the VA Hospital in Fayetteville says he was turned away over money. Roddie Jones has been suffering with a hernia for weeks. As a Navy veteran, he figured he would go to the Veterans Medical Hospital in Fayetteville for treatment, or so he thought. “They are denying me treatment at the veterans hospital and I never thought for once that a veteran would be denied service at a veterans hospital,” Jones said. At the hospital, Jones says he was turned away because he wasn't eligible for care. His income level from 2008 exceeded the threshold to receive treatment at a reduced cost. "That's why I joined the military, so that I would have benefits later on in life when I needed them,” Jones said. He needs surgery now more than ever since he lost his job back in September. According to the Veterans Affairs website, to receive health care benefits a vet would have to make less than $41,000 for the year. Roddie made just above that last year. We contacted the hospital on their eligibility standards and why a vet could have been turned away. "I don't know the circumstances involving this individual, again if you have a medical condition that needs to be treated today you would be seen. I can't answer beyond that,” said Cathryn Zureck the VA Chief Health Administration Director. The fact of the matter is, the law has restrictions on providing health care for veterans based on their condition in or out of service and their income level. This past June, the VA tightened restrictions for patients to receive health benefits. "I don't think income should be an issue, if I served my country then I should be entitled to the benefits,” Jones said. There is hope for Jones. A representative from the VA Hospital in Fayetteville told us all he would have to do is apply for the hardship program to readjust his income level. Unemployment is factored in to be eligible for benefits.
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