Things That Matter

A Veteran Is Left With No Options After A Botched Surgery Left Her Paralyzed And The VA Won’t Cover Care Costs

We have always assumed that once you join the U.S. military, they’re supposed to have your back for life, aren’t they? They pay for college. They’re supposed to help you become a citizen. They’re supposed to help you always whether that is physically or mentally. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is there to support servicemen and servicewomen during their time in the military and when they retire. We are learning, however, that is not always the case. The government is definitely not helping men and women become citizens despite their service for the United States.  And the VA doesn’t help like they’re supposed to, in fact, they sometimes make the situation worse. 

A 29-year-old woman who had corrective surgery at VA hospital, ended up paralyzed. She can’t sue them for malpractice because it wasn’t a civilian hospital.

Credit: Barbara Ospina / Facebook

This story is insane because it’s almost as if anything Barbara Ospina did worked against her. In 2013, the 29-year-old was serving her country as a public affairs non-commissioned officer for Fifth Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell, Kentucky — so technically not the front lines of war. She began to experience “headaches, tingling, and numbness in her limbs, and blurred vision,” the Daily Mail reports. So she decided to have corrective surgery. Instead of making her feel better, they caused her to have a stroke and left her paralyzed. We must note that these are all allegations at this point. 

The VA hospital where she was treated, informed her that she had a rare disease and that’s why she had ended up paralyzed. But that is not the truth, or so Ospina claims.

Credit: Unsplash

“The VA is claiming Barb’s condition is the result of ‘an Illness or Medical Condition,’ specifically Arnold Chiari 1 Malformation, and not from an ‘injury,’ “her husband said in a letter to appeal the VA denial. “Her current condition is due to INJURIES sustained from medical malpractice that occurred by a military Neurosurgeon, military nurses, and the overall horrible care she received at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.”

One of the biggest problems about this tragic story is that the retired military officer (a wife and mother) cannot sue the VA for malpractice. If she had done the corrective surgery in a regular hospital, then she could have sued but because it is the VA, she cannot. It’s so unfair. According to the Military Times, “the Feres Doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court decision, prevents her from suing the Defense Department for service-connected illness or injury.”

To make matters even worse, she can’t receive financial help — about $30,000 — from the VA for a nurse to take care of her at home. She must pay for the service herself, which is taken from her disability check. 

Credit: Unsplash

Why won’t the VA provide for a nurse? Here’s the kicker: because her injuries weren’t caused ‘in the line of duty in the active military.” Can you imagine that? The injuries she is suffering from, that were obtained from a government agency will not pay for her to get help because she didn’t get hurt in the line of duty. That is some kind of bull crap.  

“Her story represents the egregious conduct, consistent lack of care and malpractice at the hands of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” her attorney, Natalie Khawam of the Tampa, Florida- and D.C.-based Whistleblower Law Firm told Military Times on Tuesday. “This case is an example of how flawed the system is, and why it’s time for a change,” she added. Um, ya think?

This story is so sad and appalling and it makes you wonder why anyone would want to join the military knowing that they could leave you to fend for yourself even when you can’t even move.

Credit: JeffOnWire / Flickr

While it’s so good that Ospina has her husband and lawyers to count on, it’s so tragic that she cannot be her own champion because she’s in constant pain. She’s paralyzed, unable to be with her young son or her husband and have a life of constant care. All of this could have been prevented. Her life didn’t have to end up this way, and her employer — the U.S. government — should have done more for her care and for her life. We hope the Ospina family continues to try to sue them. 

READ: This Military Veteran Served Two Tours In Afghanistan And Was Deported In The Middle Of The Night

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Memorial For Vanessa Guillen Was Vandalized And People Came Together To Clean It Up

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Memorial For Vanessa Guillen Was Vandalized And People Came Together To Clean It Up

LULAC / Facebook

Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance earlier this year ignited a firestorm of concern and anger across the country. The anger has resurfaced after a person vandalized and destroyed a memorial in honor of the murdered soldier. Here’s what we know so far about the vandalism that was caught on surveillance camera.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) released surveillance footage of a person vandalizing the site.

Vandal Destroys Vanessa Guillen Memorial Mural in Killeen, Fort Hood

VANESSA GUILLEN MEMORIAL VANDALIZED HOURS AFTER HER BIRTHDAYNation’s Oldest and Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Says Suspect Caught on Video at Site of Tribute Mural for Slain SoldierWashington, DC – The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) today asked for the public’s help in providing information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person caught on camera overnight defacing a public memorial site erected by the community to remember and honor Specialist Vanessa Guillen."I would ask that we focus on reminding the community that the mural is there to bring the community together and bring awareness to sexual assault, sexual harassment and its prevention,” said Analuisa Tapia, LULAC District Director. ’Our community has already been damaged by the loss of one too many soldiers. We ask that we collectively take care of the mural as we honor our service members who live in that silent combat,” she added.Rodolfo Rosales, Jr., Texas LULAC State Director and Linda Chavez, LULAC National Board Member and Vice-President for the Southwest are monitoring the situation. “We abhor any type of vandalism and destruction of property,” says Rosales. “The only thing we believe in is peaceful and nonviolent action,” he added.

Posted by LULAC on Friday, October 2, 2020

The vandalism occurred on Oct. 1 in the very early morning hours. The act is captured in its entirety on camera with the perpetrator attacked the memorial in Killeen, Texas multiple times.

“I would ask that we focus on reminding the community that the mural is there to bring the community together and bring awareness to sexual assault, sexual harassment and its prevention,” Analuisa Tapia, LULAC District Director, said in a statement. “Our community has already been damaged by the loss of one too many soldiers. We ask that we collectively take care of the mural as we honor our service members who live in that silent combat.”

People are outraged that someone would vandalize the memorial.

The attack on the memorial happened just hours after what would have been her 21 birthday. The video shows a person running through the memorial from the sidewalk and kicking over candles. They then double back and run back through the memorial kicking more candles. According to KCEN, the site was cleaned up and fixed just hours after the vandalism occurred.

“We abhor any type of vandalism and destruction of property,” Rodolfo Rosales, Jr., Texas LULAC State Director said in a statement. “The only thing we believe in is peaceful and nonviolent action.”

Guillen went missing on April 22 and growing public pressure led to a formal investigation.

On June 30, Guillen’s body was found not far from the military base where she was last seen. Another body of a missing soldier was found while authorities were searching for Guillen.

Shortly after the body was found, 20-year-old Army Specialist Aaron Robinson and Cecily Aguilar were the prime suspects. According to reports, Robinson admitted to killing Guille by striking her in the back of the head with a hammer.

State politicians are calling on authorities to find those responsible.

Guillen’s search was national news as people were desperate to learn what happened to the young Latina. Civilians were calling on the military to launch a formal investigation into Fort Hood to find out what happened to Guillen.

Police confronted Robinson about the death of Guillen and Robinson shot and killed himself. Aguilar was arrested by police in connection to Guillen’s death and disappearance. Aguilar is charged with one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence after admitting Robinson asked her to help dispose of the body. She has entered a “not guilty” plea and her court date is scheduled for Sept. 28.

Rest easy, Vanessa Guillen.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Guillen family as they continue to grapple with this tragedy. After months of hoping to find their loved one, Guillen’s remains were discovered near the military base. The Guillen family has used the death to push for change and drafted legislation they hope will become law to help military personnel.

Guillen confided in family and friends that she was the victim of sexual harassment by Robinson. Her disappearance happened soon after she decided to come forward and report the harassment. The I Am Vanessa Guillen bill seeks to create an independent way for victims of sexual harassment in the military to report. The bill would also make sexual harassment a punishable offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

READ: Vanessa Guillen’s Family To Meet With Trump And Introduce Bill To Protect Military Personnel Reporting Sexual Harassment

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14 Fort Hood Senior Personnel Face Punishment After Deaths Of Soldiers

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14 Fort Hood Senior Personnel Face Punishment After Deaths Of Soldiers

Sergio Flores / Getty Images

Update December 10, 2020

Military officials announced that senior leaders are Fort Hood are facing investigations and punishment. The announcement comes after numerous deaths and a high profile murder at the base.

Senior officials at Fort Hood are facing punishment after a murder and several deaths.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told CNN that the issues at Fort Hood are directly linked to failed leadership. There have been numerous deaths of soldiers at the United States Army post just outside of Killeen, Texas. Vanessa Guillen’s death at Fort Hood caused a national uproar with people demanding justice for her murder. Guillen’s death brought to light the rampant sexual harassment and abuse at Fort Hood that went unpunished and created an environment that led to Guillen’s death.

“During the review period, no Commanding General or subordinate echelon commander chose to intervene proactively and mitigate known risks of high crime, sexual assault, and sexual harassment,” reads a report from the Pentagon about Fort Hood’s climate of sexual harassment. “The result was a pervasive lack of confidence in the SHARP Program and an unacceptable lack of knowledge of core SHARP components regarding reporting and certain victim services.”

Update: Vanessa Guillen’s abuela, Lorenza Almanza, made the trip to the U.S. by bus to be with her family. Almanza is here to say goodbye to her granddaughter and to continue to bring attention to the need for justice.

Vanessa Guillen’s abuela is in the U.S. as the demand for justice in the case grows.

“I just want justice for my little Vanessa because she did not deserve this,” Almanza told Telemundo. She added: “God knows how they made my daughter suffer.”

According to NBC, Almanza brought a bar of chocolate from Zacatecas to leave at her memorial because it was her favorite. Almanza traveled to the U.S. with her children to all pay their respects and be with family. Despite COVID restrictions, the family was given a special visa to cross the border during this time.

Guillen’s murder investigation has rocked the U.S. Army. The 20-year-old soldier went missing in April after attempting to report sexual harassment while at Fort Hood. Months later, her remains were found in a shallow grave. A soldier who was a suspect committed suicide and his girlfriend, a civilian, was arrested.

Original: The search for Vanessa Guillen has ended after human remains were identified as the missing soldier. An investigation into the crime has led to suspects being identified and arrested. Here’s what we know so far.

A soldier, who was a suspect in Vanessa Guillen’s death, committed suicide Wednesday.

Human remains were discovered Tuesday and identified as Vanessa Guillen on Wednesday. The suspects in Guillen’s death have not been named but one of the suspects committed suicide on Wednesday morning. The military suspect shot himself while law enforcement was searching for him.

Tim Miller, the founder of Texas Equusearch, told the Houston Chronicle that he believes the military suspect killed himself at 1:30 a.m. local time. The military suspect, who was in Killeen, Texas, committed suicide shortly after human remains were discovered near the Leon River in Bell County, Texas.

Guillen’s family have expressed their grief at press conferences since the body was identified.

The family is demanding justice. One civilian suspect is currently in jail after being arrested in connection with Guillen’s death. One of Guillen’s sisters recognized the military suspect. Mayra Guillen told the press that she met the military suspect who committed suicide.

“At approximately 1:29 a.m., officers located the suspect in the 4700 block of East Rancier Avenue,” reads the statement from the Killeen Police Department website. “As officers attempted to make contact with the suspect, the suspect displayed a weapon and discharged it towards himself.  The suspect succumbed from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

The suspects have not been identified, however, we do have descriptions of the suspects.

“The person who took his own life earlier today in Killeen after being sought by Killeen police and federal marshals was a soldier from Fort Hood and had fled the base earlier in the day,” reads a statement by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. “A civilian has been arrested in connection with Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance. The civilian suspect is the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood Soldier and is currently in custody in the Bell County Jail awaiting charges by civilian authorities.”

The case has captivated the nation as some people hurt for the family.

The investigation into Vanessa Guillen’s death is still ongoing. There are no answers yet but her family alleges that Guillen was coming forward with sexual assault and harassment allegations. The family’s recounting of Guillen’s sexual assault allegations is renewing the conversation of sexual assault in the military.

The family is calling out Fort Hood and the military’s response to the disappearance of Guillen. According to the family, they have been pleading with Fort Hood and the U.S. Army to conduct an investigation but saw nothing happening.

READ: Partial Human Remains Found Near Fort Hood Likely Vanessa Guillen’s

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