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KARE 11 Investigates: Whistleblower warnings ignored. Wounded Veterans misdiagnosed.

A KARE 11 investigation exposes Veterans misdiagnosed by the same doctor while the VA turned a blind eye and denied benefits.

A.J. Lagoe, Steve Eckert

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Published: 10:55 AM CDT May 4, 2023
Updated: 10:23 PM CDT May 4, 2023

“I didn’t realize how bad I was until after I got out,” said Steve Rhodes, remembering the improvised explosive device (IED) blasts he survived in Iraq.

The Marshfield, WI man’s service records document numerous reports of headaches and memory issues dating back to 2004.

He’s quick to acknowledge he’s not sure what path he would be on without the VA doctors who helped him navigate the dark days. “I don’t know where I would be today,” he said.

But ask him about one particular doctor at the Tomah VA and you might just hear some language that would make a drill instructor blush.

“Everybody warned me about her,” he said, recalling his first compensation and pension exam in 2011 with Tomah VA neurologist Mary Jo Lanska.

Before that exam, records show Rhodes had been diagnosed by a VA neurologist with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Despite that, Dr. Lanska wrote that he had no TBI diagnosis.

As a result, he has been denied benefits for the injury for the past 12 years.

He’s not alone.

For more than a year, KARE 11’s Broken Promises investigation has exposed how Dr. Lanska’s seemingly routine and obvious misdiagnosis of Veterans during brief compensation and pension exams have resulted in denied benefits.

In some cases, medical care itself has been denied.

Rhodes saw KARE’s reporting and reached out to share his story.

“I’m not much for being in front of the cameras,” he said. “And I don’t want all the publicity or anything coming, it’s just not right what she’s doing!”

EDITOR'S NOTE: Veterans who believe they were impacted by the Tomah VA’s flawed exams exposed in this report are urged to call a special VA hotline: 608-372-3971 extension 64775.


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