WRAL Investigates

Amputee vet fights VA over disability claim

Posted July 11

— Ron Mayo's odyssey through the disability maze in the Department of Veterans Affairs started with a case of plantar fasciitis.

Mayo, a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division, got a cortisone shot in his left foot at the Fayetteville VA Medical Center in December 2011. The foot then became infected, and he was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Concord, where he ended up on life support.

After seven weeks in the hospital, mostly at the Durham VA Medical Center, Mayo was sent home. But the pain in his foot didn't subside, and he returned to the Durham VA a couple of months later, where doctors told him they needed to amputate his left leg below the knee because the infection had spread to his bones.

"I remember that day, just sitting there, and I was scared to death to look at it," Mayo said of the day in May 2012 that he lost part of his leg. "I wouldn't even raise the sheet to look at it. It took a while."

He said he worried he wouldn't be able to play with his grandchildren, work in his yard or dance with his wife anymore.

"There are two things that kept me going, and one is I wanted to dance with my wife. She likes to dance," he said of his efforts to move forward after the amputation.

The VA complicated Mayo's efforts by twice denying his disability claim for the loss of his leg, claiming that the amputation wasn't service related and that the VA didn't cause the infection.

"All those doctors all those years, for four years, they've been saying, 'No, it wasn't that. It wasn't that,'" he said.

Mayo's fight for disability support picked up key backing in January, when an infectious disease expert at the Durham VA wrote a letter stating that Mayo did lose part of leg as "a direct result of the cortisone injection procedure performed at the Fayetteville VAMC."

He submitted the letter as evidence in his appeal with the VA's disability board. But the board sent back a letter saying officials needed more information about his claim, including which leg he was trying to get disability for.

"It's in the medical records," a flabbergasted Mayo said. "I've got copies of it. They've got copies of it."

He's been told his appeal could take years to resolve, but he said he plans to keep fighting for what he deserves. He even posted a video to YouTube to highlight his case.

Aside from his disability fight, Mayo said he is generally satisfied with the medical care provided by the VA – as long as he can get an appointment.

"I've been waiting five years, and some people say, 'That's not bad. I've waited eight, 10,' stuff like that. We shouldn't have to wait that long," he said. "Ninety-nine percent of your healing is your attitude, and I always try my best because I have a wife I love very much – been married 35 years."

The VA issued a statement Tuesday thanking Mayo for his service and promising to work with him to give him the best service possible during the disability appeals process.

2 Comments

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  • Dan Owen Jul 12, 7:19 a.m.
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    I know 2 other Veterans that have each lost a leg to this particular VAMC and several who contracted AIDS there too. No joke, I see these veterans regularly...

  • Henry Cooper Jul 11, 8:40 p.m.
    user avatar

    Assuming this is accurate this is just disgusting.

    How does it continue with the VA? How many years of issues do we all have to see before someone fixes it.

    I mean they sent him a letter asking which leg... REALLY... JUST UNBELIEVABLE!!!