Navy veteran with throat cancer continues uphill fight with VA for disability benefits

Charlotte veteran Dan Parks has been fighting with the Department of Veterans Affairs for five years to get disability benefits.

"This has been an uphill battle all the way,” Parks said.

Parks showed WSOC-TV paperwork from multiple doctors who determined his throat cancer was caused by exposure to ionizing radiation during his service in the Navy.

He took care of guns and ammunition in the early 1970s, including in an area that housed nuclear torpedo heads.

Now, because of the cancer, his larynx and thyroid were removed.

Twenty-four years after his diagnosis, he still has side effects and takes 18 pills a day, and the VA denies his disability benefits.

"If the VA won’t respect their own doctors' decisions, who does a guy turn to?" Parks asked.

Parks has been in the appeals process, but just in the past month, he received a letter from the VA that states it couldn't find his transcript and he has to start over in his request for disability benefits.

“You feel like a criminal. You served your country,” Parks said.

Because of the burden from medical bills and ongoing health needs, Parks has trouble paying his bills every week and says disability benefits would make a huge difference.

“I’m not trying to bother anybody out of anything,” Parks said. “I just want what is owed to me."

Parks has received help from both Sen. Thom Tillis and Rep. Alma Adams.

He’s hoping they can help again as he starts the process for benefits all over.

The VA has not yet responded to WSOC-TV.

About the Author