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The Price of Freedom: Navigating The VA System

Army Veteran Rick Simpson had a distinguished twenty-one year military career.  The list of his military accomplishments is long, but these days the list of his health problems is even longer.

Rick Simpson listed off his medical issues, "Heart disease, PTSD, kidney, plus i got a letter from a doctor that says when I had that wreck both legs is messed up."
 
He did three combat tours in Vietnam and Iraq.  He also was awarded two Bronze Stars

"I spent my five years in the reserves," Simpson told us.  "Then I joined the National Guard.  I spent fourteen years, two months, twenty-six days in there."

He left the military with more than just medals and awards.  He also left with PTSD.
   
"Seen a lot of stuff," Simpson said.  "I tried to put it out of my mind, but stuff like that you can't.  It's almost impossible to forget."

He is still not sure what he was exposed to in Desert Storm, but he came home with an awful skin condition.
 
"It's like having poison oak all over your entire body, and then somebody throwing gas on you and setting you on fire.  That's what it's like when I take a bath," Simpson said.

The Agent Orange Exposure in Vietnam led to cancer. 
 
"I fought it.  I wouldn't give up," Simpson said. 

VA doctors classified his cancers as in remission last year. 
That's when his level of disability went from 100-percent to where it is now at 70 percent, but 70% disability doesn't mean you get 70% of that amount money.  He gets a little more than a third of the money he was getting from the VA.  Financially things have gotten so strained he had to sell his home.
 
"I didn't want to sell it, but i had to get whatever I could get," Simpson said

By Josh RoeThe Price of Freedom: Navigating The VA System

Wednesday, June 18 2014, 07:34 PM EDT

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