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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