I am one of those servicemen getting the runaround from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
I was injured on active duty in 1986. My job was to carry supplies on a ship. While doing this I felt a pop in my back. The medical ward said I strained my back. I was put on bed rest for a couple weeks then returned to work. No X-ray or MRI was done. It was forgotten about.
My back has gone out several times since then. Before I got out with an honorable discharge, I copied my medical record. While scanning through my record, I noticed I was missing the part about how I injured myself on active duty. I asked a friend who works for the medical department and we found the missing page.
Later, I joined the Army Reserves. My unit was called up to deploy to the Gulf. During our interviews, we were asked if we were ever injured and I mentioned being injured while on active duty in the Navy. I was told not to say anything or I would not go. So I didn’t and off I went to my mobilization site in New Jersey, where my back went out again. The clinic doctor there, who remains nameless, put his hand on the small of my back and said he detected nothing wrong. I also had sinusitis, he said, and that was the excuse that sent me home. I couldn’t go to the Gulf.
Keep in mind, no X-rays or MRIs were done at this time.
I went back to my civilian job and was laid off — the boss said he couldn’t use somebody with a chronic back injury. So I applied for VA disability. The VA denied, they turned me down. So did SSI.
My point is that I was injured on active duty, twice turned down for disability and for medical treatment, but meanwhile I’m injured for the rest of my life. After serving 17 1/2 years I think I deserve better than that.