Possible lawsuit against VA medical center - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Possible lawsuit against VA medical center


A lawsuit is pending against the VA after a veteran who has spent more than 40 years at the Charlie Norwood Medical Center is now being asked to leave.

75 year old James Rucker suffers from chronic undifferentiated schizophrenia and began seeking mental health treatment only a year after being honorably discharged from the United States Air Force. He has been at the Charlie Norwood Medical Center since 1968. 

FOX54's Elizabeth Rawlins sat down with Rucker's attorney, Odis Williams, who says the VA can't give a specific reason. 

"The buzz word that they've used at various points is that he's at the optimal or maximum therapeutic benefit that he can be offered at this particular facility," said Williams.   

Williams said one of the reasons is that Rucker is not ‘service connected' but National Personnel Records indicate he has served in the military.

However, a fire at the national archives in St. Louis destroyed any other supporting records that may reveal how Rucker acquired his illness.

"It doesn't seem as though there has been any effort from the VA to recognize that, to honor that," said Williams.

Now the facility wants to discharge him. 

Brendell Collins is a long-time family friend and retired nurse who visits Rucker on a regular basis since most of his family lives in Atlanta. She says Rucker is exactly where he needs to be in his condition.

"The staff likes him, they take good care of him and I can see the progress since he has been there," said Collins.  

"He doesn't have the same since of self preservation that we do, and that facility is the best place for him to be," said Williams.  

So who's behind wanting to release Rucker? The attorney says it's coming from higher up.

"[it's] an administrative decision that they've made to discharge him at this point," said Williams.  

In which case, Williams plans to file a restraining order to keep Rucker in the facility.  

"I just think that once you make that decision to serve our country, the great United States of America; that's family, we are all family," said Collins.  

FOX54 reached out to Charlie Norwood Medical Center today but officials did not want to comment since no legal filings have been made.

Williams plans to proceed with the filings unless the administration at the facility negotiates an agreement to keep him there.

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