Is the system letting down patriotic veterans like Ron Smith, who bravely served our country but now suffers from a debilitating mental illness that prevents him from living his best life and supporting his family? Let’s take a closer look at one soldier’s story.Rom Smith has completed three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan during which he had one of the war’s most dangerous and stressful jobs: bomb hunting. By the time he returned to the United States in 2008, he noticed that he was having trouble controlling his drinking, having trouble relating to others, and having trouble controlling his anger toward everything.
Under severe duress, the vet went to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where specialists quickly diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He applied for VA disability benefits soon after.
Three years later, Smith is still waiting for an answer from the VA. He is raising a one-year-old son alone and can’t find a full-time job in his area. Desperate for support and still struggling with the debilitating symptoms of PTSD, he has accepted help from a veterans charity group but is still only barely getting by.
During the past three years, his local Veterans Affairs office has been waiting through thousands of backlogged disability cases. Although they have gotten through the vast majority through several desperate measures, Smith still waits.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.