Wounded Warriors Battle With VA
I watched a horrifying story on CNN last night. I missed it on regular programming, checked the programming guide and waited for the midnight repeat. The CNN title of the story was:
Broken Government: Waging War on the VA
It repeats tonight, Sunday night (Nov 18) at 8 Eastern, so if you get a chance, please check your schedule. It is a powerful indictment of the VA’s handling of disability claims. It is the story of 3 wounded veterans trying to get justice and only able to do it by virtually going to war again to fight for their rights.
One of the wounded warriors and a really heartbreaking story was Ty Ziegel, 25 years old who had been severely injured by a suicide bomber, “sent back to the states to die”, but lived. Despite losing nearly half of his skull and a large portion of his brain, penetrating shrapnel and bone fragments in his brain, with both ears, nose and lips burned off and impossible to replace, loss of an eye and resulting enormous disfiguration, the VA listed him as having “10% head trauma”. 10% head trauma. In addition the damage to the left lobe of his brain, loss of an eye and jaw fracture as haveing 0% trauma. 0% for loss of 1/4 of his brain, loss of an eye? He also lost one arm at the elbow, and two fingers and a thumb from his other hand, plus numerous other injuries for which the bulk of his small disability payment was granted. Far below the poverty line disability for a man disfigured and totally disabled.
Ty Ziegel, before and after. CNN News photo
(Click on the picture or here to see the video). These videos are short promo clips about 2 minutes long and I don’t know how long they will keep them up on their site. Go to CNN and see the real thing. Click here for part 2
Another veteran, Garrett Anderson received a roadside bomb injury that sent shrapanel into his head and body, and he lost an arm while driving a truck in a convoy. The VA initially rejected his claim, saying that it was “not service connected”. He was also suffering from what he thought was PTSD. In Garrett’s case the letter stating that there were “shrapnel wounds all over his body, not service connected” had the signature cut out of the letter with a knife. Apparently the signer was not proud of his decision and knew it was wrong.
Garrett Anderson. Click on the picture or here for the video clip.
In Ziegel’s case, within 48 hours of taping an interview with CNN, the VA changed his disability to 100%. In Anderson’s case, his wife took a sneak peak at his case file while a nurse was out of he room and she discovered they had him listed in their files a suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), but had failed to tell him or give him any disability credit for it. He went to Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois who turned up the pressure on the VA and subsequently has been awarded disability for TBI.
The third story was about Tammy Duckworth who lost both legs and had severe injuries to one arm and her body. She later ran for Congress with the hope of improving things for disabled veterans. She lost but has been appointed by the Governor of Illinois to be the Director of the IL Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Click here for the CNN news promo clip for her story. Go to the link with Tammy’s name above and click on “veteran’s issues” to get a flavor of what she has learned about the Va while she was in their care and her run for Congress.
Our wounded warriors, our heroes, should not have to fight for our country, then fight for their life and still have to fight for their benefits!