Goshen veteran's family speaks out about poor treatment at local VA clinic

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Goshen, Ind. A Goshen veteran is fighting for his life at an Indianapolis VA hospital after a three-month ordeal that his family blames on poor treatment at a local VA clinic.

Erik Olson and his wife Erin Olson are both Marine Corps veterans and patients at the VA Goshen Community-Based Outpatient Center.

Olson, 29, first went to the clinic about a pain in his groin back in July. His family said his pain was dismissed as a muscle spasm. No tests or scans were conducted.

Several trips to the emergency room and urgent care center later, Olson’s family said his physician at the Goshen clinic failed to follow up on his treatment.

His condition escalated Labor Day weekend. He was admitted to the hospital with severe swelling and abscesses in his leg and a massive, life-threatening blood clot. Olson’s been in the hospital ever since.

Olson’s family believes Erik’s current condition could have been avoided had he been given the proper attention from the start.

“It isn't just a misdiagnosis but complete neglect,” said Erin Olson, who is now struggling to work and take care of the couple’s three young children without her husband. “For somebody to not even take simple steps such as a blood test just boggles my mind.”

The couple moved to Goshen from Pennsylvania where they said they had a pleasant experience with the VA healthcare system. Olson said that has not been her experience in Indiana.

‘It’s just a number, just a name, another piece of paper across their desk and they don’t have any kind of empathy for actual human beings that have to live through this,” Olson said.

Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-2nd) has taken the Olson’s story all the way to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald who has pledged to get Olson the care he desperately needs.

“This is a double veteran, double income household with little kids and it shouldn’t be that you have to find somebody to fight this fight because they're still performing at a low level,” Rep. Walorski told NewsCenter16. “It’s absolutely reprehensible.”

Walorski acknowledged that the Goshen clinic was independently evaluated and found to have no blatant care wait time issues.

“It’s not just about wait times, it’s about communication, it’s about integrity, it’s about every veteran that comes back,” she said. “They should be able to look their VA representative in the eye and say ‘I trust you’ and that trust has been so violated.”

NewsCenter16 reached out to the VA Northern Indiana Health Care System for a statement on this case.

VA’s focus is on providing timely, high-quality care to our Nation’s Veterans and we appreciate this Veteran’s family bringing their concerns to our attention,” said Public Affairs Officer Mike Brady. “We are working with the Veteran and his family to ensure that the treatment plan is consistent with his preferences and addresses all questions and concerns. Following a regularly scheduled public Town Hall, Ms. Denise Deitzen, VA Northern Indiana Health Care System Medical Center Director, met with the family to discuss their concerns. The patient has been fully involved in discussions with VA staff about his care. Again, our priority is to provide the best possible care to our Veterans.”

Olson’s doctors are still not sure what is causing his medical problems. They have started ordering biopsies and considering the possibility of cancer.

In the meantime, community members have been showing their support for the Olson family through the Facebook page “Prayers for Erik Olson.”