51 Year Old Navy Vet With Multiple Disabilities Seeks Grants For Veterans
by Jerry Boone
(Marion, IN, USA)
I am a 51-year-old divorced male with two wonderful children and two grandchildren. In May 1979 I entered the United States Navy as a way of serving my country.
My intention was not to get free college or other tangible benefits but rather, to simply give of my time and self to serve my country.
After my honorable under medical conditions discharge my life's roller coaster began. First let me state clearly that I did not want to be discharged. However, due to my many medical conditions, the United States Navy felt it was in their best interest to part ways.
I received approximately $13,000 as a severance package but soon found out that as a result of being identified as Service-Connected, I had to repay the $13,000 out of any benefits that I would receive through the Veterans Administration.
This is to make others aware that the severance pay an individual receives from a medical discharge is not severance pay at all. Rather, it is a loan that must be paid back through the use of service-connected funds one may or may not receive.
Additionally, I am in remission from lymphoma. Shortly after my bout with lymphomas, I had what is known as a Roux-en-Y Bariatric surgery to reduce my weight.
At the time of my surgery, I weighed 365 pounds. I now weigh between 235 to 250 pounds depending on the week that I have. This is the result of chronic vomiting and nausea, a condition the medical field is unable to treat.
The main problem that led to this daily routine was a botched gall bladder surgery in which my bowel was unknowingly nicked resulting in a tear.
You may believe this is inconsequential; however, I have had nine surgeries where abscesses had to be cleaned and drained to rid my body of infection.
This was no easy path. Each surgery resulted in an open wound, which had to be packed with clean gauze three times daily.
Imagine an open wound approximately five inches in width and as deep as four inches. The old gauze would be removed in hopes of removing more infection and then repacked with a giant Q-tip repacking the entire wound with fresh gauze.
This took place daily for weeks upon weeks with nothing to lighten the pain around the open incision. This lasted on and off for nearly three years.
All of this took its toll on my marriage and I am now divorced after my ex-wife informed me of an affair and that she was tired of dealing with a sick husband.
Upon my departure from the United States Navy, the Veteran's Administration stated that I was 10% service-connected; the Veterans Administration demoted my disability from 20% to 10%.
This was my first clue that I would have a long drawn out struggle with my health, the Veterans Administration and future employment.
Since my departure from the United States Navy, I have had twenty-nine surgeries on my legs. The surgeries finally culminated in two total knee replacements in my left leg, and one total knee replacement in my right leg.
With the constant surgeries, my back suffered a great deal of damage in the lower section. My back is now labeled as degenerative disc disease aggravated by my inability to ambulate correctly.
Another result, which is much more emotionally damaging, is that I have fallen into a trap of drug dependency so that I can simply get out of bed and ambulate as much as possible.
Regretfully, this has led to the necessity of using a scooter to get around stores, to get around the neighborhood, and to visit areas of interest.
Continuing down the spiral, the asthma that I was service-connected with has further developed into emphysema.
The Veterans Affairs refuses to agree that my asthma has worsened and grown into emphysema. Ironically, the Veterans Administration gives little credence if any to their own physicians.
I am asked at nearly every appointment as to whether the Veterans Administration has moved me to the 100% bracket. Sadly, my response continues to be negative.
As it stands now, I am considered permanently and totally disabled by the Social Security Department. This is in part due to my service-connected disabilities, and my Parkinson's disease. Regretfully, my prognosis is not any better.
I am currently in remission from Multicentric Castleman's Disease, which the Veterans Administration refuses to service-connect me even though substantial proof exists that working around avionics fluids and living aboard a ship can be contributing factors.
It is extremely difficult to get around the home on the scooter that I have. It is not conducive to moving about the home.
When it becomes necessary to go upstairs for showers and bed, I am forced to slide up 17 stairs on my rear-end so that I do not fall again and again down the stairs as I have done on several occasions.
Of course, my medications are free through the Veterans Administration but with their guidelines. Step out of line in any area, miss an appointment and I am threatened with the Veterans Administration removing my service-connection, and refusal to supply any new medications.
The Veterans Administration was kind enough to purchase me a scooter and necessary lifts for my vehicle and to get up from the ground to the porch.
I do not qualify for any in-home improvements such as a safer shower and bathroom. Nor do I qualify for a chair lift to get up and down the stairs.
Approximately 95% of the time I am forced to be driven due to the medication and Parkinson's disease. It is often unsafe for me to drive as I place others’ lives in peril as well as my own.
I have fought for nearly 27 years to supply the needs of my family even as my health deteriorated. One contributing factor was that I was unable to take the time off of work after surgeries to properly and fully heal before returning back to work.
I simply did not have enough sick days so on several occasions I would be released from the hospital only to go into work the following day.
I completely used up all of my annuities and savings to keep on top of the bills but to no victory. I lost my home to foreclosure in 2005 due to my inability to generate enough income to make my house payments.
Besides my Service-Connected funds, I also receive Adult Disability Social Security. However, I am unable to receive Medicare until I have been on disability for two full years.
This regretfully makes me rely completely on the Veterans Administration for my healthcare, which at times, is putrid in its delivery and services.
Because I am unable to work, I must stretch these funds to help my parents, my daughter with two grandchildren (after being kicked out of their home due to my soon-to-be ex-son-in-law’s extramarital affairs and physically abusive nature).
I am unable to venture into any business that will cause an increase in income due to regulations that are applied as a result of Social Security Adult Disability.