PORTLAND, Ore. — Real-life hero and Army veteran Chris Mintz, who took seven gunshot wounds while protecting classmates at an Oregon college last week, says he considers himself truly blessed to get treatment in a civilian hospital.
"As I got in the ambulance, I kept thinking to myself, 'Dear God, please don't let them take me to a VA hospital. I don't want to die waiting for treatment,'" Mintz told reporters from his bedside at Mercy Medical Center, where nurses actually check on him periodically to ask whether he needs anything, such as a blanket or a snack from the cafeteria, and bring it back to him within minutes, despite him not filling out the proper DA-7022 Form, Meal Replenishment paperwork. "When I think about my brothers and sisters in arms that started waiting for Veterans Affairs service before I was shot, and will still be in the waiting room after I'm discharged, I have flashbacks of my week-long VA eye exam."
In recognition of Mintz's heroism, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter offered to transfer Mintz to any active military hospital of his choice for continued care, sources confirmed. "No thanks," Mintz reportedly said, according to an unnamed physical therapist who started working with the Army veteran almost immediately after a doctor requested his services instead of waiting for paperwork to make it through the system over a period of five to seven months. "If I can't stay in a civilian hospital, just go ahead and drop me off at my car and I'll drive home."
While many have speculated about the VA's response to Mintz's statements, the department has so far remained silent. When reporters attempted to reach the VA for comment, they were put on hold, then after a seven-hour wait, the line was cut off.
Mintz, who has shown never-ending selflessness, says that he hopes to recover soon.
"The faster I'm out of here, the faster I can start repaying them for my GI Bill," Mintz said. "After getting dropped from my classes because I have not attended over the past few days, the VA wants its money back."