Austin Reporter Fighting to Get VA to Help Local Vet

By Kevin Eck 

Last year we reported on KTBC reporter Rebecca Thomas donating a kidney to help save her mother.

This year, Thomas is trying to help out local veteran Charles Nelson who just had a lifesaving kidney transplant.

The VA denied Nelson benefits after initially telling him it would pay because his son Cody, who is donating the kidney, isn’t a veteran. Nelson had to pay for it through Medicare.


“In an email the VA said it would not pay for Nelson’s surgery because to be eligible for the program which would pay for his transplant, “a person must be an enrolled veteran,” reports KTBC. “Again, Charles Nelson is an enrolled veteran, his son is not.”

Now, because of Thomas’ work the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, which wrote the bill affecting Nelson, is calling the VA wrong.

“It seems as if VA has created a technicality that doesn’t exist, as basic common sense dictates that in cases of transplants, the donor’s medical care is an essential part of the procedure,” Congressman Jeff Miller, Chairman of the Committee on Veterans Affairs, told KTBC. “That’s why we have brought this issue to the attention of officials at VA headquarters in Washington with a request for them to clarify this policy and make the veteran whole as soon as possible. The Choice Program was created for the express purpose of expanding medical care access for veterans in need. Attempts to use the program as an excuse to deny veterans care are wrong and contrary to the spirit of the law.”