I have a service-connected Traumatic Brain Injury from hazing. Now what?
February 13, 2014 5:38 PM   Subscribe

Other than filing for disability with the VA, what are my options for restitution or proceeding forward with therapy or other medical options?

The incident happened in 2005 and cut my enlistment in half. Just now discovering how bad things are for me mentally. Not interested in suing anyone necessarily as the statue of limitations for this are up. When I mention this is due to hazing, most organizations want nothing to do with me. But I don't want people assuming it's a combat related injury, so I don't leave it out.

Current testing shows results that are in line with the severity of the TBI I received, so it's not a question of whether or not the injury caused my TBI. And it's not a matter of whether the event happened or not. I have eye-witnesses who are coming forward to speak about what took place.

I have been looking for answers for years now about what to do next, and I don't know who else to talk to at this point. I understand there are multiple resources for people with TBI and I have read everything I can to try to understand what happened and what's going on in my head. But this seems to be something where you have to know what questions to ask ahead of time if you want any answers.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You have this direct from a personal injury lawyer? I'd ask at least one more.
posted by sammyo at 5:45 PM on February 13, 2014

Speak to a lawyer. If this happened while enlisted there may be options for restitution from your employer at the time (the US government).
posted by amaire at 5:52 PM on February 13, 2014

There's rules that sometimes kick in where the statute of limitations may not kick in at times when you haven't yet discovered the problem. Don't try to determine yourself whether you're ineligible for a legal remedy; go ask somebody who does it for a living.
posted by Sequence at 6:16 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

Have you filed with the VA yet? If not, try contacting Disabled American Veterans to walk you through the application process. I trained in the VA system a while back and I know some of the Vets I worked with found their help invaluable.
posted by goggie at 6:20 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

A suggestion - don't try stating off the bat that the incident came from "hazing." Be very specific about the physical steps that happened. Were you dropped? "Another servicemember dropped me while carrying me." Were you punched? "During combatives, I was struck and hit my head against a wall." If people don't think you have an axe to grind, they'll be much more willing to help you with your claim.

The Feres Doctrine means that you cannot sue - there are no means for monetary restitution, other than filing a VA claim. Are you reluctant to file? You say "other than disability."
posted by corb at 6:34 PM on February 13, 2014 [15 favorites]

I had a pretty harrowing set of injuries while in service. It happened while luging with a skateboard. Since I was on an active assignment at the time it was considered in the line of duty weirdly enough. Active duty is a 24/7/365 responsibility. Injuries that happen count regardless of whether you were in combat or not; whether it was directly service related or not.
posted by Fezboy! at 7:27 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

Getting the VA to recognize the injury as service-connected will help with any issues of perception by employers, whether without regard to what benefits you do or don't wind up receiving based on that status.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:20 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

The VA is slowly getting better about TBI. Just at the end of last year they annouced they are expanding what conditions can be considered service-connected due to TBI. See this press release, which includes some good links.

I know that the VA facility I am most familar with has a specific social worker who has a role as a dedicated TBI coordinator, and would presumably be in a position to help you understand your options. I don't know if every facility does this but you would be able to find out by working through the social worker at your local VA medical center.
posted by Wretch729 at 7:44 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

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