I was a good soldier’: A veteran fights to get his disability recognized

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I was a good soldier’: A veteran fights to get his disability recognized

Post by Loader on Mon 01 May 2017, 15:25

Gloria Galloway The Globe and Mail



Mike McNeil does not remember leaving the paved road in his one-man mine-detection vehicle in Afghanistan in November, 2009.

Mr. McNeil, who was then a corporal in the Canadian military, does not remember the explosion of the 140-kilogram improvised bomb that lifted the multitonne trailer he was towing onto his truck and hurled a door panel into his head so hard it dented his Kevlar helmet.

He does remember waking up vomiting amid the wreckage and stuttering for the first time in his life.

The stutter has never subsided. His body still shakes. He still walks with a cane and he is in constant pain.

Because he returned to duty as ordered just days after the incident, high on painkillers and unable to pass mental fitness tests, Veterans Affairs Canada has denied his application for the $70,000 tax-free critical injury benefit that was created for soldiers who suffer the most severe and traumatic service-related injuries.

A panel that heard an appeal of that denial said the explosion of Nov. 14, 2009 was “traumatic and led to a disabling condition [for Mr. McNeil]. The event caused the symptoms, but not the immediate, severe impairment that is required” to qualify for the benefit, said the panel judges who upheld the decision to deny him the benefit.

They pointed out that Mr. McNeil was treated in the military hospital at the Kandahar Air Field for less than 24 hours, then went back to work and served out the remainder of his 216-day tour.

Mr. McNeil, on the other hand, argues that his symptoms were both immediate and severe. He just found a way to power through his pain and his disability.

“I was a good soldier,” he said in a recent interview from his home in Fredericton. “I would have done whatever they had asked, even in pain. When they said ‘you’re going back out,’ I said ‘yes sir.’ ”



The married, 35-year-old father of three children has not been able to work since he was medically discharged from the military in 2014 as a result of the wounds he sustained in the bomb blast. He qualified for many Veterans Affairs benefits, including a lump-sum disability award of just under $333,000 and a pension that amounts to 90 per cent of his prerelease salary.

But he points out that he is not entitled to other benefits that he would have received had he been able to remain a soldier for a full 10 years. And he is angry with the way he has been treated by a government that he says is denying his obvious impairment.

“I want them to start admitting the truth,” Mr. McNeil said.

The Veterans Affairs department says, as of March 31, 2017, 150 soldiers and former soldiers have received the critical injury benefit that was introduced in 2015 but can be claimed by any member of the military who was injured after April 1, 2006.

The department, which cannot discuss Mr. McNeil’s case for privacy reasons, said in an e-mail that some former soldiers who suffer traumatic brain injuries are entitled to receive the benefit. But “if the impairment is delayed, the individual may not meet the eligibility criteria.”

Just last week, as The Globe and Mail was making inquiries about Mr. McNeil’s situation, the department sent him a letter saying it agreed he had incurred a traumatic brain injury as well as dysarthria and fibromyalgia.

For the past eight years, and despite multiple doctors’ diagnoses of brain injury, Mr. McNeil said his Veterans Affairs caseworkers have told him the department records said only that he had post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition from which he also suffers.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/veteran-fights-to-get-his-disability-recognized/article34864562/
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Loader
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Re: I was a good soldier’: A veteran fights to get his disability recognized

Post by czerv on Mon 01 May 2017, 16:14

How can those bast.... sleep at night, knowing very well what they are doing to veterans!
How can they look into their children's eyes, after treating injured veterans like that.


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