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What is the Disability Benefits Process Like for Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans?

You’d think the battle would end when veterans returned home, but thousands of veterans are involved in a different kind of fight. They have to fight for benefits. Not all of their stories win media attention, but here’s one veteran’s that did.

CNN talks about an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran named Mike Grabski. He served in the United States Army for 10 years, completing two combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He earned two Bronze Star medals and left the service in good standing in 2009. Unfortunately, he also walked away with some serious injuries. Mike’s exposure to continuous gunfire and explosions led to  the following: degenerative bone disease in both knees, asthma, hearing loss, mild traumatic brain injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

In July 2010, he filed for disability in California but the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) didn’t review his case until two years later. When the media grabbed onto his story, the VA finally took notice. Once reviewed, the VA rated him as 40% disabled due to knee injury, asthma and hearing loss. He was awarded $560 a month in disability benefits. However, Mike kept fighting! He obtained new appointments to re-evaluate his brain injury and PTSD. Finally, the VA changed his disability rating to 80% and he now draws $1,427 a month. CNN tells us that veterans criticize the VA policy and call the benefits process “Delay, deny until we die.”

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