Veterans With PTSD Win Review of Their Rejected Benefit Claims


Posted on 31st January 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, whose claims for benefits based on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were rejected, will have another chance to get relief. For the full story, see

The military has agreed to do an expedited review of the claims due to a judge’s order, which stemmed from a class-action lawsuit filed by seven combat veterans who were discharged for PTSD. Those vets claim they were illegally denied health care and other benefits that they were entitled to with their disability.

One of the original plaintiffs was ex-Army Sgt. Juan Perez, who suffers from PTSD and has problems with migraines and his eye resulting from a head injury he sustained during two tours in Iraq.

The Pentagon mandates that soldiers who leave the military due at least in part to PTSD must receive a disability rating of at least 50 percent to get full benefits, according to the National Veteran Legal Services Group.

But roughly 4,300 former soldiers earned ratings of less than 50 percent, so they were denied benefits. Those veterans will soon receive legal notice that they will be able to have an expedited review of their cases by the military, and that they can “opt in” to a class action lawsuit involving the matter.

The seven ex-soldiers who started the class action suit had disability ratings of 10 percent or less.

After the new review, former soldiers who get ratings of 30 percent or more will become eligible for benefits, according to The New York Times.
Those applications can be found at

Lawyers for the veterans expect that the reviews will result in ex-soldiers getting millions of dollars.

The higher disability rating will translate to lifelong monthly disability payments, and free health care for the veteran, his or her spouse and their minor children.

Veterans groups seek help for Mo. soldier


Posted on 17th November 2008 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 11/17/2008

Associated Press Writer

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Spc. Glenn Barker is trying to recover after suffering a traumatic brain injury while serving in Iraq, the death of his 15-year-old son earlier this year, and flood damage that left his home uninhabitable.

On Monday, the American Legion Heroes to Hometowns program and the Missouri Veterans Commission asked for the public’s help to raise $63,000 to help Barker. The money would be spent on home repairs not covered by insurance and the purchase of a used trailer he can live in temporarily and later use as a work space.

Barker, 41, lives outside the east-central Missouri town of Potosi. He deployed with the Arkansas National Guard to hunt down improvised explosive devices in Iraq, and said he lived through nine detonations while driving an armored vehicle looking for roadside bombs.

The worst explosion came in August of last year, he recalled, when he ran over homemade explosives buried in a road. He suffered back injuries, a perforated ear drum and a traumatic brain injury that wreaked havoc on his short-term memory.

“The left ear is pretty much done,” he said, gesturing to that side of his head.

He writes himself notes and uses information stored on his cell phone to help him remember.

In May, his 15-year-old son, Zachary, was a passenger on an all-terrain vehicle in rural eastern Missouri that crossed onto a roadway and into the path of an oncoming car, killing the boy.

Barker, who is divorced, was out of state receiving treatment for his injuries when Zachary was killed.

“I have one other son. I guess you could say he’s my crutch; he keeps me going,” he said. “We miss his brother dearly.”

Barker is also trying to restore the log home that he had built himself. The house was destroyed by mold when it flooded after pipes burst following a multi-day power outage in 2006.

Barker is now in a program at Fort Leonard Wood working to improve his memory, his balance, his back and his right hand, which he said sometimes shakes.

The one-time auto body shop owner didn’t know what his future occupation might be, saying it’s hard to finish any task with his memory problems.

Family members mention that many of his tools were stolen while the Purple Heart recipient was gone, and that he sometimes has slept in his truck in recent months. They offer him a place to stay, but say right now, he’s having a hard time settling in one place.

“I don’t have in my mind what I want to do. I’m just lost,” he said.

The Department of Defense tells injured soldiers what help is available to them, and they must give their permission for their information to be shared.

For the first half of 2008, the American Legion’s Heroes to Hometowns program has assisted 380 soldiers nationwide. Since June of last year, the Missouri effort has helped more than 20 soldiers.

Shirley Janes, who chairs the Missouri American Legion’s Heroes to Hometowns program, notes that there are multiple efforts to help soldiers in need as they return home — whether it’s trying to make sure they keep medical appointments, providing them gas cards or helping with housing.

“The bottom line is we will do whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to help these heroes transition back home,” she said.

Barker, who explained during the interview that he wouldn’t be able to retain the conversation for more than a few minutes, thought for a moment when asked if he has regrets.

“For what it cost me, yes. But regret for my country? No,” he said. “I don’t feel the Army owes me. I’m just asking for a little help.”


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Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.