The Battle After The War: Veterans Fight For Benefits, Medical Care
“She was still alive and um, I wasn’t a hero, you know. And I remember opening up my kit.”
Retired Army Specialist Matt McDonald is still haunted by the memory of holding a dying comrade’s hand, and the flash of a suicide bomb exploding right in front of his humvee, causing a traumatic brain injury.
“I remember looking down and my right hand was just mangled and covered in blood,” McDonald said.
McDonald is one of three military veterans who claim their battle has continued on the home-front with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“The VA is either trying to lessen the amount which I should be compensated for, or they are completely ignoring it and saying it’s not service connected,” Sgt. Micah Welintukonis said.
Welintukonis survived a medically induced coma after an explosion from a suicide bomber. Now, the Army veteran claims the VA is denying his claims for benefits related to traumatic brain injury, even though he was diagnosed with it by the Department of Defense.
And former Paratrooper Tim Kingston is recovering from emergency spinal surgery. He claims that the West Haven VA hospital told him to wait two weeks for the surgery, despite a lack of feeling in his lower body.
“They were on the phone with neurology at West Haven VA, who relayed to them that his case was not emergent because he was not defecating or urinating himself,” Tim’s wife Loni Kingston said.
Part of the problem with the VA is the lack of electronic records, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said. And, he argues, there should be a link between Department of Defense records and VA records.
“There is no question that some of the VA officials need to be held ,accountable and that means, perhaps, being given the door,” Sen. Blumenthal said.
Sen. Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. John Larson are both working on legislation to fix VA dysfunction.