Sunday, February 14, 2016

Veteran Fighting After Broken Body and Broken Promises

Broken bodies, broken promises: Valley student-veterans search for answers 
Daily Item
Rick Dandes 
February 14, 2016

“I served three tours overseas. Now I work at Bloomsburg University, and the VA owes me $964,” he said, barely able to control his anger. “I still don’t have it. And I’m fighting to get my truck back. I tried reaching out to the VA on multiple occasions. The educational VA rep we are supposed to be talking to doesn’t answer my emails, doesn’t respond when I call.”
Photo Provided Wayne Bridwell
BLOOMSBURG — Wayne Bridwell, 34, an Army veteran, returned from multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan with a Purple Heart — and arthritis in his hips, knees and ankles.

“When I walk,” he said, “you can hear my bones grinding.”

Bridwell was what grunts call a “door kicker.” He saw considerable action in the most dangerous war zone in the world, breaking down doors as others followed behind in the urban combat.

After returning stateside, a Veterans Affairs doctor told Bridwell there was nothing wrong with him. The doctor took one set of X-rays and when Bridwell said he could make his hip, knee and ankle pop out of place, she called it the usual wear and tear.

Usual wear and tear? For a 34-year-old?

Since then, Bridwell said has hit more roadblocks, thrown in front of him by the very people who there to serve him and his fellow veterans.

“I’ve been trying for two years to get a compensation and disability appointment with the VA,” he said. “That’s not right. Wasn’t the VA created to help people like me?”

Bridwell’s frustration with the VA boiled over recently: His truck was repossessed after a paycheck due him for his work at Bloomsburg University in VA student services did not arrive in time to make a payment.
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