GREENVILLE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - Two months after a FOX 46 investigation led to a bill being introduced in Congress that would give active duty soldiers the right to sue the government for medical malpractice, the President of the United States is now weighing in.
The president's Wednesday night speech fired up a raucous crowd in Greenville, but sitting quietly in the stands in a black suit was Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal.
The Purple Heart Green Beret wasn’t there for a political show. He’s on a mission to change the law.
“Rudy Giuliani reached out to the president personally and informed him of who I was and my situation," said Stayskal, who was there with his family. "And that we would be here today."
His situation gained national attention following a series of FOX 46 investigations that began last November.
In 2017, doctors at Fort Bragg's Womack Army Medical Center misdiagnosed his lung cancer as pneumonia, medical records show. Doctors later determined a biopsy was needed, according to records, but Stayskal says he was never told that.
A civilian doctor diagnosed him with cancer six months later. The lack of treatment caused the cancer to spread throughout his body.
The 38-year-old's cancer is now stage 4 terminal.
Under a 1950 supreme court ruling called the Feres Doctrine, active duty soldiers are unable to sue the government for medical malpractice.
Stayskal is fighting to change that. His efforts resulted in a bipartisan bill, named after him, that just passed the House. It now goes to the Senate.
On Wednesday, Stayskal received VIP treatment and was invited to share his story and talk about the bill with Pres. Trump.
“He said he’d definitely look into it," Stayskal said.
He said the president gave him words of encouragement about his health.
"As I was walking out he asked me what my prognosis was and I told him I was stage 4 terminally ill," said Stayskal. "And he dropped his head a little like he had some empathy and just shook his head and looks up at me and is like, ‘don’t give up it’s never too late.’"
"Definitely good words of encouragement to hear from the president, you know?," he said.
Stayskal and his family also met with Vice Pres. Mike Pence for the second time this year. He said Pence again expressed interest in the bill that, if passed, would change nearly 70 years of military precedent.
"When we first met nine months ago when you told your story to us, to then where we are today meeting the president," said FOX 46 investigative reporter Matt Grant, "what's going through your mind to see your story get this kind of attention?"
"You know, it's definitely surreal," said Stayskal. "But it's nice. It's nice to know that all the hard work is paying off."
For Stayskal, it's about using the time he has left to fight for his fellow troops.
"What do you think your legacy is going to be?," asked Grant.
“I hope it's the bill passes," said Stayskal. "And that it starts a trend of equal and more support for the troops.”