Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
On Tuesday Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) introduced bipartisan legislation that would allow service members to sue the government for military medical malpractice.
It all began with a medical check.
Carson Thomas, a healthy and fit 20-year-old infantryman who had joined the Army after a brief stint in college, figured he should tell the medics about the pain in his groin he had been feeling. It was Feb. 12, 2012, and the senior medic looked him over and decided to send him to sick call at the base hospital.
It seemed almost routine, something the Army doctors would be able to diagnose and fix so he could get back to being a grunt.
Now looking back on what happened some seven years later, it was anything but routine.
Editor's note: A combat wounded veteran, Ryan served in the U.S. Army as an armor officer assigned to 1st Battalion, 13th Armor Regiment. While deployed to Iraq in 2005, his vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device buried in the road. He works as the Wounded Warrior Project's national Combat Stress Recovery Program director.
On Nov. 29, 2005, my life changed forever. I was a 24-year-old U.S. Army armor captain deployed to Taji, Iraq, when my vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. On that day, I lost two of my soldiers, Sgts. Jerry Mills and Donald Hasse, and I lost my right arm and left leg.
Addressing an audience at a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing Thursday in Spanish, Committee Chairman Rep. Mark Takano, D-California, pressed for legislation that would require all VA fact sheets to be published in English and Spanish. A bill sponsored by Rep. Gil Cisneros, D-California, would do that.
EXCLUSIVE: After the VA missed a spine-eating infection, a loophole kept him from suing. A new bill would change that for other vets
It's been three years since doctors misdiagnosed an infection that was devouring the spine of Marine Corps veteran Brian Tally.
It's been two years since his hopes for damages from the Department of Veterans Affairs were dashed when he was informed that the doctor who made the mistake was a contractor — and the statute of limitations for legal action against the care provider had passed just weeks before he got the news.
And it's been a little under a year since he drafted the first "Tally Bill," a piece of legislation that he and a handful of vets and advocates stitched together — before that first bill died quietly in Congress in Sept. 2018.
Now, Tally might finally have a chance for closure.
"Everyone knew that it was building up and thought it could get violent."
Alone in her office, Katie Blanchard saw him out of the corner of her eye.
It was Clifford Currie, a 54-year-old civilian employee who Blanchard supervised. She couldn't yet see what was in his hands.
For months, Blanchard, then a first lieutenant, had warned her supervisors and coworkers that something would happen to her. She told them that Currie scared her. He would fly off the handle at a moment's notice. He would yell and physically intimidate her.
She told them Currie was dangerous.
Then he did what she said he would.
As Currie stood in the doorway of Blanchard's second floor office at Munson Army Health Center, he pulled out a small clear bottle filled with a brown liquid. His eyes were glazed over and bloodshot as he doused her in gasoline.
Then he lit a pair of matches and threw them on the 26-year-old Army nurse, lighting her on fire.