Jesse Jones

89-Year-old Vietnam veteran left to fend for himself because Veteran Affairs can’t locate records

At 89 years old Robert Miller and his family are searching for his past. His military records can’t be found and because of that his family says he can’t get benefits from the VA to help treat the diabetes that has taken his legs.

Miller says it started after being exposed to Agent Orange while fighting in Vietnam between 1961 and 1963. Agent Orange was a herbicide used in the war to clear enemy fields. Those exposed to the chemical suffered from a variety of diseases, including cancer, Parkinson’s, and diabetes.

Robert’s daughter Suzie says she’s tried for more than five years to get her father benefits – but her father lost many of his military records when moving from Wisconsin to Washington in 1969.

“We have provided pictures and his honorable discharge. We have provided every bit of information that we have. A lot of my dad’s military paperwork was lost, including his DD-214, " says Suzie.

The DD-214 is the servicemember’s report of separation from the military. It includes information such as their creditable service, job specialty, last duty assignment, rank, and any foreign service served.

Letters from the national personnel records center say its unable to locate any information to help verify Miller’s service. So, we went looking for help. And that took us to the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

“That’s one of our main focuses, to try to ensure that generations of veterans are well taken care of. We do a lot of outreach to help Vietnam era veterans connect with their earned benefits,” says Paul Cruz. He says the federal VA is averaging about 156 days to process a claim completely.

But in this case, Mr. Miller will have to have his file rebuilt. “It may take a little longer because we have to do public records, request for national archives, maybe recreate a record, find some old battle buddies or persons they have served with to get those battle buddy statements as you’re talking about. So, it really depends.”

We also went to the Federal VA in DC for help. After a search conducted by both parties, no one has yet to come up with Mr. Miller’s records.

In a statement, the U.S. Veterans Administration said:

“VA representatives connected with the Veteran and his family regarding his benefits application, and we continue to work with them to see what we can do to possibly assist.”

Robert Miller’s daughter Suzie says it’s been frustrating getting the same denial repeatedly, “and it’s like, what else can we provide for you? You have all of the paperwork, and they just continually deny him.”

Our search continues as Robert and his family patiently wait for support.

“My life completely changed for the simple reason I can’t do much of anything anymore because of my legs.”