North Texas Veteran Worried Sequestration Will Hurt Medical Care
In the back and forth debate over the potential impact of the nation’s forced budget cuts, a Fort Worth soldier suddenly heard his own story being told in a Washington hearing room full of generals and congressmen.
“A soldier at my rank doesn’t commonly get discussed in front of people of such high stature,” Sgt. Alan Hill said at his home Friday.
Congresswoman Kay Granger used Hill’s experience recovering as a wounded warrior, to question military leaders on the sequester’s effects on healthcare for service members. Leaders told Granger that financial resources are not an issue with providing adequate care, but Hill said he disagrees.
The Army admitted mishandling Hill’s situation at Fort Bliss in El Paso last year. He was there recovering from traumatic brain injury following service in Afghanistan. After speaking out about not receiving the care he expected for his injury, Hill was physically confronted by two officers in his recovery unit. In a CBS11 investigation in February, Granger said she had as many as 30 other testimonials from service members that care for wounded warriors was lacking.
In Washington this week, she briefly told Hill’s story, then asked Gen. Raymond Odierno, chief of staff, U.S. Army, if it was a systemic problem related to budgetary concerns or limited to a few negligent folks.
“I truly believe that these are, what I call, anecdotal, individual events,” Odierno answered. “I do not think it’s about the resources we have involved with our medical care.”
Hill said he would respectfully disagree. Since his time at Fort Bliss he has been accepted into treatment programs in Maryland and later this month, Virginia. Physical resources are plenty he said. Financial resources though are just as important he feels to ensuring the right people are in the right positions, something he fears could go by the wayside if significant cuts trickle down.
“Do the job that you swore you would do,” he said. “And do not betray the trust that men and women have put in you.”
Hill said he doesn’t believe the country owes him anything. He fears for the care of service members yet to return though, and believes without assurance of care, it will hurt the nations efforts to attract new volunteers.
The sequester did specifically exempt cuts from affecting pay for active military, money for the Afghanistan war and the Veterans Department.