Sgt. Micah Welintukonis was deemed unfit for duty after suffering injuries from a suicide bombing. He woke up from a medically induced coma facing a brand new challenge: the transition from the Army to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
For over a year, Welintukonis and his wife, Camilla, have seen doctors, collected medical records, and argued with lawyers about the accuracy of his reviews and ratings.
“I would rather be deployed again than have to go through this painful process,” Micah said.
In one instance, the VA gave Welintukonis a “0%” rating for a 4 inch “superficial” scar. Micah can hold up a ruler showing that the scar is 12 inches. He says it formed after doctors operated, removing shrapnel from his stomach.
Cases like Micah’s may be uniquely complex, but could happen more often due to a drawdown in U.S. troops in the coming years.
“They’re conservatively estimating another 200 thousand veterans going into the system between now and 2015. You know, that’s about a 33% increase,” Rep. Joe Courtney (D) said.
Congress has acted to implement a policy framework and fix the VA benefit claims backlog by 2015 but Courtney says more can be done.
“These are lifetime decisions in terms of the impact it has in terms of future health care and certainly getting support for your family,” Courtney said.