Indy veteran claims VA missed chance to diagnose cancer

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 11, 2015)-- Michael Bombard signed up for the U.S. Army right out of Ben Davis High School in 1981.

He swore to serve and protect, but Bombard claims that when it was the Veterans Administration's turn to have his back, the ex-serviceman found out he was on his own.

Former Sergeant Bombard has filed a $750,000 tort claim against the VA for failing to diagnose a cancerous tumor that not only cost him his eyesight but will take his life.

"I won't see one of my grandchildren graduate from high school because the VA, whether it was funding or whatever it was, never took the time to give me a MRI. If they would've, maybe you and me wouldn't be talking right now."

Bombard's right eye is virtually closed, tissue peeking out where the cornea was removed, following two failed operations at the Roudebush Medical Center after the vet says doctors ignored his symptoms.

"This was like somebody was in my head pushing my eye out continuous 24/7," he said of the headaches that went untreated. "My opinion? I think they were guessing."

Medical records reviewed by CBS4 News show the gradual deterioration of Bombard's eyesight without any change in his complaints.

Finally, Bombard insisted on an examination at the Indiana Eye Institute which ordered an MRI that discovered a tumor.

Bombard said further tests confirmed the tumor was malignant, according to his doctor.

"He said, 'Mike, they come in three stages:  small medium and large. Yours is in the large state. The VA let it go too long."

Bombard returned to Roudebush and met with an oncologist who delivered the bad news.

"There is no treatment for ocular melanoma cancer. There's no cure," said Bombard. "I'm in a support group and some of my friends are dying everyday from this ocular melanoma."

Bombard's tort claim is based on his belief that if Roudebush physicians had ordered an MRI in the seven months when they could not alleviate his symptoms, the tumor would have been discovered and could have been treated.

"Whether it made any difference back then, I wasn't given that opportunity or chance. That's what I'm trying to say they never gave me...whether it was because of funding. Whether it was they have too many people in the VA, or what the reason was, I was never given an opportunity to live a little bit longer if they had done an MRI a little bit sooner and found this and were able to treat it.

"Me and my wife have only been married since February and I have three kids and nine grandkids and I want to make sure they're taken care of after I'm gone because I'm never going to see that money because they're going to take their time until the last minute to do anything, if they do anything," he said.

Bombard's wife helped him navigate through the paperwork maze. His sister enlisted the aid of the Wounded Warrior Project to help Bombard file his tort claim.

Despite recent promises by the VA that it has made improvements to its health care delivery system, Public Affairs Officer Pete Scovill said, "We work hard to provide the best healthcare appropriate to our veterans needs every day of the year and regret any veterans dissatisfaction with care they receive. We are unable to comment on a claim filed through the tort legal system. VA has legal counsel and this Veteran's case will follow full legal process."

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