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Gulf War veteran says "botched surgeries" at Miami Veterans Hospital left him in constant pain

South Florida veteran advocates for change at Miami VA Hospital
South Florida veteran advocates for change at Miami VA Hospital 02:26

PEMBROKE PINES - Gus Vergara served nearly a decade in the U.S. Coast Guard, spending a year in the Middle East during the second Persian Gulf War. 

Now retired and back home in South Florida, in 2020 he says he had two surgeries at the Veterans Hospital in Miami. The first surgery was a vasectomy and the second was to correct problems that arose after the first procedure. 

Vergara says the surgeries left him with constant pain in his left leg.

"I have nerve damage, it hurts sitting down and walking. I have severe amounts of pain."

After years of back-and-forth complaints with the VA, recently Vergara received an encouraging email from the hospital's chief of quality, safety and value who wrote:

"The office of the General Council will follow up with you directly once they assign the case."

CBS News Miami contacted the Veterans Administration in Washington D.C. for comment on what happened to Vergara. We were told our questions would be examined and answered. 

By late Thursday, there was no further response. 

Vergara said his botched surgeries also affected his ability to work and family relationships.

He sought mental health treatment at a VA facility but says that fell short too. "I have a masters in mental health therapy. I knew I wasn't going to get what I needed from the social worker," he says. 

In fact, Vergara says veterans are assigned social workers instead of trained mental health therapists. 

He's taken that issue up with Florida Senator Marco Rubio and says Rubio's office has been receptive to approaching the VA in Washington about mental health services.  

"Nothing against social workers but with issues like PTSD depression and anxiety, mental health professionals may be more appropriate."

A spokeswoman from Senator Rubio's office told CBS Miami, "Our veterans deserve the best possible care. Senator Rubio is taking these concerns seriously and looking into how he can further help his constituents."

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