• Channel 9 helps veteran with throat cancer make progress after uphill battle with VA for disability

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    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte veteran Dan Parks has been fighting with the Department of Veterans Affairs for five years to get disability benefits. After bringing his concerns to Channel 9, the Navy veteran is finally making progress.

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

    After Channel 9 aired a story about Parks' fight for benefits, he said VA officials called him saying they had found the transcripts they told him were lost.

    [READ MORE: State suspends license of former Salisbury VA neurologist following Channel 9 investigation]

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

    Parks showed Channel 9 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.

    [ALSO READ: Veterans concerned about care provided at Salisbury VA hospital]

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

    "If the VA won’t respect their own doctors' decisions, who does a guy turn to?" Parks asked. “You feel like a criminal. You served your country."

    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."

    According to Parks, he has received help from both Sen. Thom Tillis and Rep. Alma Adams.

    Parks' appeal for benefits is ongoing. Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on his story.

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