Veteran mounts protest, claims U.S. government "abandoned him"

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- An army veteran says he has been abandoned by the U.S. Government, and is taking to the streets hoping to get his story out.

This is the second time Peter Soshea has taken to the streets with his banner. He's taking his case to the people because the government he served won't listen to him.

On a busy street corner, Soshea, a cancer patient, sends a message to any one who will read it.

"The VA, - Abandoned me."

Soshea is talking about the Department of Veteran's Affairs, which he says he's been fighting for more than 4.5 years to get benefits they owe him.

"This is pretty much the only thing i can do," said Soshea.

The 58-year-old served 12 years in the Army and the Coast Guard. Soshea says because the VA won't approve his claim that his Leukemia was caused by his service, he only gets 10% of his benefits, which amounts to about $135 a month.

If it were at 100% for cancer, Soshea would receive over $3,000 a month.

Soshea says an oncologist at the Phoenix Veterans Hospital has said his Leukemia was likely caused by his radiation exposure in 1980, as an Army Atomic Demolition Munitions Specialist. Despite filling out reams of paperwork, he says the Veterans Affairs won't acknowledge it.

"I think they're just waiting for me to die, and the chances of me dying are so high," said Soshea. "I've been on chemo everyday for the last six years, and that's how I've lost most of my teeth."

Soshea says he feels abandoned by the government, but not by his fellow Americans.

"People stop and thank me for my service, and honk when I'm sitting out there with my banner," said Soshea.

Late this afternoon, FOX 10 did receive a response from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Officials said they strive to provide veterans with benefits they have earned in a timely fashion, but that radiation claims like mr Soshea's are complex, and can take time to process. They are working to verify certain aspects of Soshea's time in the service, and will keep him informed throughout the process.