Wednesday, May 11, 2011

We Need More Support--Period.

This weekend a reporter from the Huffington Post came to our house to interview Bryan, myself and our friend Karie, whose husband Cleve was also injured in Iraq. Cleve passed away a year ago from an accidental overdose of medications prescribed to him by the VA while at an inpatient, PTSD program.

The reporter tells us he isn’t sure of the exact direction of the story but he is interested in learning more about the kinds of support the government and VA gives caregivers. We went to a non-working dinner with him Friday night and spent Saturday on our back deck detailing the time line of the injuries, our families’ friendships and the devastation of Cleve’s death.

It was emotional.

When I tell the story from start to finish the memories and loss come flooding back. The fights, the grief, the moments of hope, the disappointments of Bryan’s medical care not being covered—it’s all there. I have never had a reporter sit and listen for hours to our story. I have never had someone interested enough to want to tell our story and change the way wounded warriors are treated so other families don’t have to suffer.

I hope his story does some good. When my husband was lying in the hospital bed at Walter Reed I asked point blank if his medical needs would be taken care of. Doctors promised they would.

They haven’t.

We are now appealing our case to Medicare because the wording on the bill was incorrect. Tricare won’t pay either for the same reason. Now, we have $35,000 in unpaid medical bills arriving at our house on a daily basis.
This has to change and stop for others.

During our talk with the reporter, listening to Karie relive the same emotions I felt was painful. I felt like my chest was closing up and I couldn’t breathe. My heart was pounding . She is doing so well but she will never get over what happened to her husband.

The reporter eventually asked the question that they all ask: “What do you see for your future?”

This question always stops me in my tracks. We have been simply surviving for so long that the future is measured in seconds, minutes, hours, or days. I have ideas of what I want to do in the future but it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.

My sole focus right now is to get Tricare to pay his medical bills. Then I can breathe. Eventually, I want to earn my master’s degree. Bryan has also expressed interest in attending school but who really knows? Things, for the most part, have been stable for over a year. But there always seems to be something that pops up and zaps every ounce of our stability and peace.
I am looking forward to reading this reporter’s article. I hope it opens it helps to show the VA and the DoD what is really going on with our wounded warriors.

We need more support—period.


Family Of a Vet said...

Cheryl -

I'm so glad that you and Karie were the ones to serve as voices for so many. Love this post. Can't wait for Huffington to publish the article. Thanks for all of your hard work!

Brannan Vines
Proud wife of an OIF Veteran
Founder of - an organization dedicated to helping heroes and their loved ones survive and thrive after combat with real world info about PTSD, TBI, and more!

nikeathena said...

I pray you and Karie sharing your will open the eyes of those who have been blind to the trials our wounded have gone through. This must stop - there must be support for our returning soldiers.

laura said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Maybe the VA will listen to us.

Kim @ Stuff could... said...

I really hope yall get help. It is deserved after his service. I see a lot of organizations on tv that are supposed to help...

The Biddle Buzz said...

Thanks for sharing.

I pray Tricare gets straight and takes care of the bills that you have piling up. Financial issues just add so much more stress to things, especially when battling things included in the aftermath of war.

I think it's an amazing things for you and Karie to share your experiences. My heart goes out to both of you for all that you have been through. The hurt and pain will never leave Karie, but she is a strong woman with many people surrounding her that care and want the best. Even people she is not aware of.

Keep up your hard work with all that you do!

Shannon said...

I'm so sorry you are having to deal with crappy billing issues on top of the stresses of your "new" normal. Some of this red tape BS is maddening. I feared dealing with the VA as well, but my husband and I divorced before that became a reality. It's really shameful what happens in some circumstances to our veterans and their families. Gosh. I just cannot imagine.

I also hope this newspaper article helps others and opens eyes. Bravo to you all for having the strength to re-live it all.

I agree with the need more support statement, but on a different angle. I wish there were more resources and support for the wives who have chosen to leave their wounded warriors. People tend to believe we just didn't love them enough or didn't want to stay married to the "new them." So false. For me and a lot of other women I know, it was too dangerous to stay. Some of us tried everything, separations, therapy, medicine, etc. and yet it was still too scary to stay. It's an entirely different form of pain and guilt :(


KrippledWarrior said...

You are in my prayers.

My Traveling Troop said...

Wow. You hear in the news about soldiers getting injured, but not about their battles and challenges at home. I wish your family the best of luck as you try to get your medical bills squared away. And I hope the Huffington Post coverage helps toward that end!

It's Something Beautiful said...

I've been reading Karie's blog for a while now and both of your stories break my heart. I'll be praying that this reporter publishes something that will catch someones eye and add fuel to make some changes happen. You don't deserve to have to pay the medical bills.

Bluebird said...

The Huffington Post is very liberal so cross your fingers.
My decorated combat veteran DH has been trying for 10 years to get a claim for service-connection on terminal illnesses from Agent Orange and other things.
Our Congressman says it's because the VA doesn't have the money, yet didn't the govt just give trillions of dollars in bailouts of companies? 390 VN Vets die every day. A VA Memo heading said, 'Delay, deny, until they die.' So we can't pay our bills either. My DH's PTSD is driving us apart, the stress and pressure and ER visits in which I never know if I will leave a widow or not -- all take their toll, and now my health is badly suffering. Just requesting prayer to get through it. Thx. Bluebird.

Tiffany said...

I totally agree - even on small healthcare issues, much smaller than you are dealing with - Tricare pushes back. I had a case 12 years ago - I had surgery at a civilian hospital because there was no military hopsital in the area. I jumped through all the hoops, got all the permission beforehand, saved all the paperwork, and was rewarded with a yearlong fight over a cost that I didn't owe. Turned out that the code on the paperwork was incorrect, but it wasn't fixed until I wrote a strongly-worded letter and copied a few Rear Admirals at Tricare. It sucks that the red tape means more to them than the actual care and welfare of your servicemember. It shouldn't be that way. Praying help finds you soon!

navywifechronicles said...

Please provide the link to the article when you get it. My husband is also a Wounded Warrior and although the accident was over a year ago, we still get random bills. We had a case manager who took care of everything (and made everyone a little scared at that) but she has retired and has been replaced by someone who, well, to be honest, doesn't have balls. I understand your frustration and hope this article is read by many to help change the way we perceive and treat Wounded Warriors.