"Everything just goes really slow down there": Wounded vet frustrated with VA delays

Vet medical needs

THE PENTAGON -- When CBS News first met Marine Sgt. Mjr. Raymond Mackey at Walter Reed seven years ago, he was learning to walk again after losing both legs to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. 

But when we met up with him this week, he was in a wheelchair. He hadn’t walked on his prosthetic legs since November.

Mackey has been trying to get new sockets for his prosthetics through the VA in his home state of North Carolina, but it takes so long, his body changes and they no longer fit his stumps.

Marine Sergeant Major Raymond Mackey CBS Evening News

“Everything just goes really slow down there,” Mackey said. “By the time it comes back, it doesn’t fit.”

He says he received six or seven sockets that did not fit because of the delays.

“We get the appointment and we’re told that it’s two months out,” Mackey’s wife Vikki said. “I explain to [the VA], ‘he is not in his legs right now. He can’t wear them. They don’t fit.’ And [the VA representative] says ‘this is our process.’”

“[It’s] frustrating,” Mackey said. “I’m over mad.”

Life on prosthetics was never going to be easy, but Mackey stayed fit, competing in Wounded Warrior games, and was free to drive around on his Harley.

Marine Sergeant Major Raymond Mackey seen today with wife Vikki. CBS Evening News

No less than the Commandant of the Marine Corps attended his retirement ceremony.

Even now, Mackey gets emotional when he remembers greeting the rest of his unit when they came back from Afghanistan seven years ago.

“You just miss being in the Marine Corps,” he said.

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The Mackeys finally gave up on the VA and drove back to Walter Reed to get new sockets for his legs, which will take less than a week.

The VA told CBS News there is no excuse for why Mackey or any other veteran should have to wait for care.

“These people served their country ... giving their limbs and their lives,” Mackey said. “You just expect medical care that you can depend on.”

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.