CW: Military Service
Nearly half a million Americans serve in the National Guard. However, CBS News has discovered instances in which service members who say that they’ve been injured in the line of duty face a difficult battle to receive health care and pay.
According to the most recent statistics from CBS News, the Air National Guard determines that approximately 30% of injury claims approved by local commanders do not qualify, prompting concerns among military members about whether proper standards and procedures are followed.
Master Sergeant Jim Buckley, whose family has served in the military for three generations, is one of those veterans. Buckley says he hurt his shoulder during a physical fitness test in 2019 after stints in Iraq and Africa. While he ignored it at first as a “minor inconvenience,” he later required shoulder surgery a year later. Another examination revealed a sleep disorder, headaches, and hypertension, all of which Buckley said he didn’t have before his military service.
After Buckley was taken off orders, the family lost their health insurance. In addition, they also lost his monthly income. Buckley’s income from the National Guard was $4,000 a month.
Buckley says the loss has been “a great hardship.”
The National Guard, unlike the active-duty portion of the military, requires paperwork to prove that the injury occurred or grew worse while serving. While his shoulder injury was eventually approved, Buckley said he fought to get his other medical conditions recognized for benefits, or what’s known as a line-of-duty determination.
Jeremy Sorenson was also an F-16 and A-10 pilot in the Air National Guard. He now works with the non-profit USJAG.org to advocate for injured service members. According to Sorenson, his team is already working on 15 comparable Guard incidents.
Buckley’s paperwork reveals that his Air Guard headquarters in Mississippi supported his injury claims, but the Air National Guard made the final decision. According to CBS News, he has not seen any evidence of that claim.
Veterans make tremendous sacrifices to be able to serve their country. While their loved ones are serving their country, military families must deal with stress and anxiety. They should be able to get the help they need.
Herrige, Catherine, and Kerry Breen. “National Guard Members Fight to Have Injuries Recognized and Covered: ‘Nobody’s Listening.’” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 10 Nov. 2023, http://www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/national-guard-members-fight-to-have-injuries-recognized-and-covered/.