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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Mexican Army Wants To Pay Off Murder Victim’s Family With One Million Pesos In Cash

Things That Matter

Mexican Army Wants To Pay Off Murder Victim’s Family With One Million Pesos In Cash

The family of a man who was shot in the back and killed by a Mexican soldier is demanding better support from the Mexican military after officials offer them one million pesos, or about $49,000 USD.

Officials say that the Guatemalan man was in retreat from a military checkpoint near the southern border, when they admit that a soldier wrongfully shot at the man killing him.

Military officials are offering $1 million pesos to family of the Guatemalan man the army murdered.

The Mexican Army is offering 1 million pesos (about $49,000 USD) in compensation to the family of a Guatemalan man who was shot and killed by a Mexican soldier along a stretch of Mexico’s southern border.

The man, Elvin Mazariegos, 30, was killed by the army in the state of Chiapas by a soldier who opened fire on a car in which he was traveling with two other people.

According to Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval, the soldier shot at the vehicle as it tried to escape in reverse from a military checkpoint. He said the decision to shoot was an “erroneous reaction” because the military personnel hadn’t come under attack. The solider who shot Elvin Mazariegos was turned over to the federal Attorney General’s Office.

The family is asking for more support since Mazariegos was the family’s sole income earner.

Olga Mazariegos told the newspaper Reforma that the Mexican army had offered a single 1-million-peso payment to her brother’s family. But the family is also demanding monthly maintenance payments for Mazariego’s daughters, aged 9 and 5, and 2-year-old son, she said. She said their father was the sole income earner in his family.

“What we want is monthly maintenance, but they say that they’ll only give [a single payment of] approximately half a million quetzales,” Mazariegos said. At today’s exchange rate, 1 million pesos is in fact 377,300 quetzales.

The slain man’s sister said the army’s proposed payment will be insufficient for the man’s widow to maintain her family. “She’s left alone with her three children; what happened to my brother is not fair,” she said, adding that it was insulting for the army to say that his life was worth 1 million pesos.

Mazariegos murder comes as police brutality gains greater attention across Mexico.

Credit: PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

Residents near the border (including Guatemalans) have demanded justice. About 300 angry residents detained 15 other soldiers also deployed near the border. Nine soldiers were released about three hours after they were detained, while the others were set free in the early hours of Tuesday morning after Mexican officials reached a deal with the civilians to provide them with “economic reparation” for the killing. The army chief didn’t reveal how much money was paid to the angry residents.

The killing of Mazariegos came just two days after the death of a Salvadoran woman who was violently pinned to the ground while she was being arrested by municipal police in Tulum, Quintana Roo.

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President Joe Biden Ends Trump-Era Trans Military Ban

Things That Matter

President Joe Biden Ends Trump-Era Trans Military Ban

Former President Donald Trump and his administration have a long track record of attacking LGBTQ+ votes. One of the first attacks was to ban transgender people from serving in the military. Years later, President Joe Biden has reversed the hateful order.

President Joe Biden has ended the trans military ban.

Former President Trump left behind a trail of destruction and pain with his administration. One of the first LGBTQ+ attacks was banning trans people from joining and serving in the military. The policy, which was created via a tweet, caused unnecessary pain to trans military members both current and retired. Many lost benefits and others were discharged for being who they are.

The order is a welcomed change to the military.

“This is reinstating a position that previous commanders and — as well as the Secretaries have supported,” President Biden said about the order. “And what I’m doing is enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform, and essentially restoring the situation as it existed before, with transgender personnel, if qualified in every other way, can serve their government in the United States military.”

LGBTQ+ people and allies are celebrating the end of the discriminatory policy.

The policy banning trans members from the military served no purpose other than singling out people for who they are. For years, the military has accepted LGBTQ+ people and former President Trump’s anti-trans policy was damaging and unnecessarily harmful to servicemembers.

President Biden’s plan will tackle the legacy of disenfranchisement in three steps:

  • Directs the secretary of defense and secretary of homeland security to implement this order.
  • Immediately prohibits involuntary separations, discharges, and denials of reenlistment or continuation of service on the basis of gender identity or under circumstances relating to gender identity.
  • Requires an initial report from the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security be made to the President within 60 days on their progress in implementing the directives and policy included in today’s Executive Order.

READ: Amelio Robles Ávila Was Mexico’s First Trans Soldier And A Revolutionary Hero, More Than 100 Years Ago

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