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Father and Son Turn Backs on VA Hospitals

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Eddie Ryan, a Marine wounded in the Iraq war, spent four months in a Veterans Affairs hospital, where his father says conditions were so terrible that he worked hard to get him out. Chris Ryan says he'll never send his son to a VA facility again.


Eddie Ryan, a Marine sniper, was shot twice in the head in Iraq, suffering from both extreme - from extreme brain trauma, he was sent to McGuire Hunter VA Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. But after experiencing treatment there, his father, Chris Ryan, moved Eddie Ryan to private care.

Mr. CHRIS RYAN (Father of Eddie Ryan): In the VA, it was the rough go. It was very tough. The conditions were way below our expectations.

NORRIS: What was it that was lacking at the VA hospital in Richmond?

Mr. RYAN: There would be bugs in the room, I was killing bugs in the room. There was - the main concern, it was the care from the nursing staff. We were constantly fighting with nurses to do their job. Here's a kid that was made out of steel, now you have a Marine with a traumatic brain injury that can't get out of bed. He needs a diaper changed. And man, my wife waited an hour and 10 minutes after he went to the bathroom. He was sitting in human feces and he ended up getting a bed sore.

NORRIS: What did they say when you pointed out the problems with your son's care?

Mr. RYAN: Ma'am, there was a couple of nurses that it was - it got to the point where they just didn't want to do their jobs. These nurses in the VA system, they have permanent jobs. These are government jobs. They're secure. My wife is a peace-loving, God-loving woman. She almost went to fists with a nurse in the hallway. They called security on my wife just because my son was sitting in his own feces for an hour and 10 minutes. He got a bed sore in the hospital. He was on an IV drip for six weeks because they wouldn't change his diaper. They didn't change it fast enough.

NORRIS: Oh, you mean the bed sore got infected?

Mr. RYAN: The bed sore got infected right near his tailbone. That can be very bad. We got him out of that VA, and we're happy we that got him out of that VA and we just - will never go back.

NORRIS: I have one last question for you, Mr. Ryan, before we let you go. There are a series of hearings here on Washington, D.C. today. We're talking about military care at some of these hospitals. If you could say one thing to lawmakers that are involved in oversight of these issues, what needs to be done at VA hospitals? How can we improve this situation?

Mr. RYAN: I could care less about building Iraqi schools overseas for the children over there. My concern is to give these wounded warriors everything they need. I don't care about dollars and cents; give these wounded warriors everything they need and deserve as American fighting warriors.

NORRIS: Mr. Ryan, thank you very much for speaking to us. All the best to you and all the best to your son as well.

Mr. RYAN: Yes, ma'am. And thank you.

NORRIS: Chris Ryan, speaking to us about his son Eddie Ryan, who was a Marine sniper. Officials at the McGuire Hunter VA Hospital in Richmond did not respond to our request for comment.

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