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Barry Coates, Vet At Heart Of VA Scandal, Has Died From The Cancer The VA Didn’t Treat

January 29, 2016

U.S. Army Barry Coates became the face of the VA waiting list scandal after CNN broke the story that he was ravaged by stage 4 colon cancer after years of begging the VA for a colonoscopy. Tragically, on Saturday at the age of 46, Coates passed away.


Coates later testified in front of Congress about his story. A plain spoken, simple man from rural South Carolina, Coates’ testimony brought members of Congress to tears as he talked about how the severe delay in treatment lead him to developing a cancerous tumor in his colon the size of a baseball.

“Due to the inadequate and lack of follow-up care I received through the VA system, I stand before you terminally ill today.” he said in his testimony.

He continued to fight for the vets receiving inadequate care as the cancer was slowly killing him. His efforts and the stories from other veterans lead to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and a $16 billion overhaul of the department by Congress.

His son Shane had this to say:

“Everything they did at the VA was dragged out, it was never a quick appointment for anything. He had to wait so long to get any treatment. After what happened to him, he just wanted to fight for other veterans.”

Rest in peace Barry, we will continue the fight!


From CNN:

Washington (CNN)Barry Coates, the U.S. veteran who became the human face of the Veterans Affairs scandal over delays in care in 2014, died on Saturday of the cancer that wracked his body after waits for medical care at a VA facility. He was 46.

Coates became a national figure representing delays in medical care at VA hospitals after he was featured prominently in a CNN investigation in January 2014.

The CNN investigation that included Coates was the first national story about delays in care across the country that year. It led to a national controversy resulting in the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, and ultimately a law that provided $16 billion to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs, passed by Congress and signed by President Obama.

Read more at CNN

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