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Poorly Treated Wounded Warrior – In His Own Words

By Gerry Emery – We hear of so many instances where our Veterans Administration drops the ball so frequently, but here we see an example that it is not just them.

It appears to be a problem that pervades all branches of our armed forces. Our wounded warriors are not all treated equally it appears, nor are they all treated properly.

Please read the following example in this wounded warrior’s own words, Matthew William McElhinney:

Is this the way we treat our Wounded Warriors? This needs to change and NOW!

“This the story of my son in his own words. Please get the word out. Thank you!” – Mark T. McElhinney (Please go to our Facebook page here.)

I am a United States Marine who was poorly treated after I was wounded in Afghanistan.

In 2010 my platoon was ambushed in Marjah. I was shot in the back.

After a vicious firefight, and the efforts of my fellow Marines and corpsmen, I was stabilized and med-evaced to Camp Bastion, where I had life-saving surgeries. I was transported to Germany, then to a hospital in Bethesda, Md., where I had more surgeries and then given a month of convalescent leave at home in Vernon.Matthew William McElhinney1

When I returned to base, I was placed in the “remain behind element” of my unit, consisting of 20 or so Marines who had either returned from deployment or hadn’t deployed for one reason or another. No one had any idea what to do with me as far as doctors or administration on Camp Lejeune. I assumed I would be placed in Wounded Warrior Battalion, which is set up to care for Marines as they adjust to their new disabilities and enter a new phase in their lives, then have an expedited medical out-processing. I was incredibly wrong.

I soon realized there was no one to lead me to the next step, so I took it upon myself to make appointments to see the regimental medical officer (since our battalion medical officer was in Afghanistan for the duration of our deployment). I eventually had several appointments for post-operative check ups but when I asked for a doctor’s assistance with getting into WWB, no one had any idea how to do it.

After months of no intel, a case manager informed me that only my battalion medical officer could recommend me for WWB. This was a problem because he was still in Afghanistan dealing with the horde of wounded Marines and sailors operation Moshtarok produced. It became clear that I was stuck until they returned stateside. I waited 5 months, watching as the stateside portion of our unit filled with wounded Marines in the same limbo I was in. Together we pooled our intel and resources because we realized no one else was going to help us. The WWB didn’t even know we existed.

I spent those months in limbo following leads about obscure medical administrators that could possibly help as if I were hunting some elusive mythical creatures.

Eventually my medical officer returned stateside and started my paperwork to enter the WWB and place me on a medical board to be evaluated and eventually medically retired from the Marine Corps. This was the beginning of an absolute disaster that almost ruined my life. I started my med board and was told it could take two years to be medically separated from the Marine Corps.

But what other option did I have? I went to all the VA appointments, and awaited my placement into WWB. But that was denied because it’s impossible for anyone on a medical board to be accepted. My battalion and regimental medical officers along with my chain of command did everything in their power to find a loophole for me to no avail.

My only option was to sit in my unit and wait for my medical board to process. This may not sound all that bad but infantry units are well oiled machines with no place for the wounded; why would they be? That’s what wounded warriors is for.

There were constant conflicts with getting anything done for a wounded Marine because training and mission readiness take obvious priority over paperwork. I spent the next YEAR in this endless loop of trying to expedite my medical board dealing with the most incompetent people I have ever met.

I would have people dodge my phone calls or tell me bald-faced lies. I finally contacted my congressman. His inquiry led to the discovery that my paperwork had been stuffed into a filing cabinet and no one had ANY intentions of doing anything. The congressional inquiry restarted the process and I resubmitted my paperwork.

After over a year of waiting, my medical board findings came back and I learned that the Marine Corps’ intention was to separate me with no medical care and a VA disability rating of 30 percent. I’d had a bullet hit me in the small of my back, go through my pelvis and then get pulled out of my abdomen. At 20 years old I’d made peace with God on a helicopter ride to Camp Bastion and again on a plane to Germany. I hobbled with a cane for almost a year, I have to have back injections every six weeks just to walk, and the possibility of getting a decent job is slim. After all this these people decided I was unworthy of even medical assistance after they kicked me out the door.

So of course I appealed and after four months I eventually got my disability ratings bumped up to 40 percent.

I took a bullet for this country and these people repaid me by flushing two years of my life down the drain. I’m crippled; my life’s in a shambles. I was afforded none of the opportunities that WWB Marines receive.

These are the ugly truths about the inner workings of WWB and I’m angry. When you think of Wounded Warrior Battalion, you think of selfless young men wounded horribly in combat brought there to transition into the rest of their lives. But in reality most people in WWB don’t even have Purple Hearts; a lot have never even seen combat. There are Marines who, through some perverse loophole, found a way to enter WWB without being wounded in combat!

There are people there injured in motorcycle crashes, DWI accidents or because they have some vague chronic illness. All the while Marines wounded in combat are turned away. With all the corruption, I don’t even understand how it hasn’t been dissolved.

I don’t know if sharing this will accomplish anything, but I’m the kind of person who stands up for what’s right. I don’t care if any of this has an impact on my life, but my friends are still trapped in this endless hell while the Marine Corps does nothing.

Matthew William McElhinney

___________________

Here are some images of Marine Matthew William McElhinney:

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Matthew William McElhinney4

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Shortlink:

Posted by on December 14, 2013. Filed under Military. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

32 Responses to Poorly Treated Wounded Warrior – In His Own Words

  1. Summertime Martin

    This is an outrageous situation
    and one in which more Marines
    should voice their experiences,
    to add to the exposure of such
    corruption and neglect.

    Also, it would behoove a general
    or two, retired or active,

    to step up to the plate and
    intercede in this matter.

    There are a few generals who
    are mindful of our current
    illegal and corrupt tyrant
    in D.C. They need to become
    more active in more ways,
    to help not only wounded
    military but our American
    citizens who are being
    shafted daily by Obama
    and his mafia.

  2. loral

    I am so sorry I can’t even tell you and I will keep you and the other wounded soldiers who must suffer this way in my daily prayers. I’m so ashamed of our government right now it’s hard to even think about them – with their criteria of getting more money from taxpayers to send to the very people who are trying to kill us, it’s incomprehensible. I’ve read another wounded story who had a You Tube posting who lost both legs in a missile explosion and came home to battle and find our country in such a horrible state………Stay tough guys. It’s going to change because God takes care of things and there are so many prayers going up for you daily! Sending love and Blessings.

  3. Steve Harrison

    Good on you for bringing this out in the open, Marine. As a Purple Heart Combat Nam Vet (Army, Infantry-Aviation), I’ve already seen much of what you describe in my own dealings with the VA. The tongue-in-cheek assessment of the VA’s prime directive must be “Delay, deny and hope you die.” Macabre, but taking years for simple assessments, ratings, etc., is patently inexcusable. Some Senator needs to wade through the VA with an axe handle and clear out all the bureaucratic rats. I’ll be passing around the link to your account on this web site (thank you, Gen. Valleley)at widest dispersal. Here’s hoping your straightforward account generates the Scheißesturm it so richly deserves. This is yet another sad accounting of how Military LEADERS are being weeded out and replaced by Military Administrators/Bureaucrats. And it’s pukeworthy.

  4. James R. Boy

    This Administration made up of Marxist / Communist’s is the reason. It’s time these traitors to this country be Charged with High Crimes. America’s are suffering in every aspect with their hatred for America. The enemy is in the camp. The perimeter has been breached and it’s time to weed them all out. The evidence is there. Charges should be filed. The President is the Commander in Chief and should fall under the UCMJ. A General needs to make the arrest since he has been protected by Eric Holder. IMHO.

  5. fedupwithbias

    Such a beautiful young man with so much to look forward to before he went to battle for this corrupt Country and the corrupt officials. To think that you have to fight your own battles just to get the proper medical care and disability as needed is ludicrous. I pray for all of you wonderful all volunteer warriors every day and night and I wish I could help in some other way. There is nothing that is too good for our wounded personnel and their dependents…the ones who gave all weren’t even assured before they went to battle that their families would get anything. God Bless You and I am so happy that you have him in your life…keep on keeping on and whatever we can do, we will. Most of the populace is on your side…the others don’t count. Love you dearly, young man.

  6. SFC_Swede

    Mr Emery,

    Thank you for sharing your story. As you lamented, this is an issue spanning all services. Without telling the entire tale, I too was wounded in Afghanistan, and found upon returning home that the Army had abandoned me. After serving 26yrs, and fighting in every conflict since the 1st Gulf War, I was dumped into the scrape heap of disposable soldiers. I have experienced every single problem you related in the he Army as well. Our medical management unit is filled with some of the most incompetent people I have ever met. Similarly, it is at least filled 50% with folks that have never left the States, or heard a shot fired in anger, further congesting the pipeline to get care, or have your separation paperwork completed in a timely manner. There is no priority given to the truly wounded, over say someone who tore their ACL in basic or AIT. The VA is another animal all in itself. The claims process, dispite what the government is selling recently is still broken, and a long and arduous task. You give these clowns everything. Your medical records, line of duty investigations, imaging…everything, and they still find ways to screw you over. Similar to the military treatment, and no I understand that every situation is different and I shouldn’t judge, but I find it maddening that I have met people who seem to have no physical disability collecting near 100%, while people like us with real impairments get rated at 30%. It’s maddening. And that’s all before your thrown into this pitiful job market, with few opportunities.

  7. Sgt J

    As a fellow Marine I know all about the WWB. They are a bureaucratic nightmare. That goes for all types of injuries. There are tons of stories like yours and even ones for Marines trying to get TSGLI. It is terrible to see how we all get treated after we are no longer of use to them. I wish someone would step in and say enough is enough, but until then we are strong and will make it through.

  8. wayne wilmott

    my brotherinlaw stepped on a land mine in Vietnam in 1970 has plate in one side of his head,all kinds of damage.He was having some problems with his foot went to the VA in Lexington Ky.and even though he has been to the VA many times over the years his medical records and other paper work hadnt been up dated since 1970 .A person fights for their Country ,gets hurt.disabled and for the next 42 years you are forgotten.This is a shame great way to repay someone that gave everything they had to their Country.

  9. MGySgt's wife

    Apolling to say the least! Sadly all to true! I personally know a SSgt that was put in WWB @ Lejeune because he had hepaticas B of which he had for years. He milks the system every way he can. You listen to his and his wife’s stories. I think he did one tour in Iraq no awards what’s so ever in no proven combat action. Yet he recieved Military pay in WWB & begin receiving SSD benefits at the same time!! It is sickening it’s the ones who need and derseve it that usually don’t get it and the POS that get in. I’m not saying all are POS but lots are just there unjustly while other suffer!!! This needs to be fixed!!!!

  10. Jesse

    Marine,

    I feel your pain brother. I had two bad knees four surgeries and stage one cancer when they decided to through me to the curb at 15.8 years and thats with a fight with the MED board.

    As well I wanted to go the WWB and work with the staff for my further, but to NO avail. As you know the Marine Corps doesn’t do well with hurt Marines. We have one mission, see the enemy and kill them with no room for Marines that can’t fulfill that mission. I loved that mission, but never saw the after effects when Marines do get injured. Sad we have those that are blind with our injured missions…

    My prayers go to you and your family.

    SSgt. U.S. USMC Ret.

  11. Pat Coleman

    This is one of the many sad stories of how are military veterans are treated by this country. I am from a family full of military personnel, active and otherwise. My father served in WWII and someone from my immediate family have serve in each war ever since. I am blessed to be able to say that there are no apparent scars of war, who knows what they maybe experiencing mentally. However, my heart goes out to the strong brave and courageous young men and women who protect us. I cannot say that if needed I would go into combat and there are many more cowards like me, so the Government should treasure those who voluntarily put their lives on the line against all kinds of maniacs who would harm us as a nation. I am currently studying for my BA in Human Resources. Who more needs the empathy of an HR manager than our guys and girls returning from overseas. I have not research where i can apply my degree working with vets, however, that is my mission to show my appreciation to all of them. I love you for what you have done for me and our country and may God and the government help you with whatever service is available to you and your family.

  12. Terry Brokaw

    shame shame shame on this country!!!! We treat our Military like shit, we treat our citizens like crap, we cater and pander to those who do not in the SLIGHTEST deserve our compassion!!!!! shame shame shame!!!!!!!!!

  13. William Links

    this is so sad and just bs. they either need to fix the system or disband it entirely. how dare they treat our wounded warriors like this. and they need to kick out the ones who are claiming to be a wounded warrior. when they have not been wounded in combat.

  14. Ssgt J Cheney

    son, i’m so sorry this is happening to you. I have my own fights with the vets admin hospital. been fucked up a long time now (vietnam) hope yers goes better’n mine has…… yeah, i do wish we could hold someone accountable, well my heart goes out to ya PEACE, LITTLE BROTHER

  15. word cannot describe this. it is totally unacceptable, every ranking official should be held accountable all the way to the so called commander in chief,but he would rather give health insurance to freeloaders who wont even work or pay taxes,,,at least he wants illegal immigrants to have better care than a wounded vet……….

  16. richard nevels

    i cannot tell you the utter shame i feel. The government is and has been in the throws of traitors from to to bottom. Our top leaders have been purged and from all branches of the service. All fighting military wounded physically or mentally should be the responsibility of our government to see to their wounds for life period. and i think that once the traitorous democratic party including the zulu king have been dealt with and and a government that once again is serving under the constitution of these great UNITED STATES OF AMERICA you and all wounded will be cared for properly again. you and your buddy’s can still be heard (VOTE) FOR NO DEMOCRATS they are all traitors .thanks for what you have done for the real americans in this country.

  17. donald parton

    our government is all screwed up don’t care about wounded veterans

  18. Mike M

    This is a prime example of our govts. lack of care for our servicemen. Most of it I believe is due to the poor POS we have running our country. I hope for everyones benefit something is done about this terrible behavior of our wounded service men.

  19. Susan Anonymous

    It’s truly a shame how this country, government and VA/DOD, etc…treats our veterans and men and women in uniform. My husband, who proudly served for 17 years, has been treated in a similarly disgusting manner by this country’s military, VA/DOD, etc…
    It’s frustrating, aggravating and sickening that instead of getting all the assistance, answers, care and respect you get “red tape”, lies, the runaround, avoidance, ignored, “pass the buck”, and downright intentional abandonment.
    I tell every person I can what vets and those still in active duty have to deal with. People are in shock because they believe what the media has told them-the VA takes great care of our vets, that vets get whatever they need, that vets get tip-top care, that active-duty and their families are well cared for, that it’s not hard for vets to get VA Disability, and the list goes on and on. People always say back to me, “Oh, I had no idea it was like that!” “I thought all our vets were getting everything they needed.” “I thought disabled veterans’ families were getting healthcare, dental care.” “I had no idea there were active duty families that needed assistance.”
    To them it doesn’t seem possible, it even seems ironic. But for those of us living it, we know it’s America’s dirty little secret.

  20. Thank our Obama and government for all this. For their the ones behind it all. After all our Generals can not do anything with out getting fired.

  21. SummertimeMartin

    John Kennedy,

    According to our Constitution,

    the terrorist who is threatening
    our freedoms and our liberties,
    our very documents which protect us
    from this usurper,

    can be removed by a. an Army Provost Marshall
    b. a high ranking military officer/officers
    c. a sheriff
    d. the people themselves

    He is not immune or invulnerable to
    the law of the land.

    What is lacking?

    A leader with guts and backbone
    to take up the gauntlet.

    Where is this person?

    Hiding behind his pension/his job/his
    career/his badge/his family necessities.

    He does not get it that with Obama
    all of the above is going to be
    disappearing.

    Read about the 197 high-ranking officers
    that Obama has ‘purged’ over the last 2
    years.. some close to their coveted pensions
    and cushy retirement.

    Now Ryan is saying military benefits should
    be cut.

    They already are speaking of cutting out
    commissaries, forced them to accept
    perversion, will be penalized if they
    speak of God or Jesus,

    and even the chaplains are now forbidden
    to do what chaplains do.

    More than this.. the rules of engagement
    now have cost more lives because in essence
    their hands are tied when facing an enemy.

    So, where are the generals now in active duty?
    Why do they not stand up and be heard?

    The military that I remember .. way back
    in the Korean War, had some integrity
    and knew their own authority and used it.

    I don’t see this in our officers’
    non-response to this squatter in the White House.

  22. brian

    God needs to damn this country. It is evil.

    • SummertimeMartin

      If ice storms, historic
      winter weather, floods,
      typhoons and earthquakes
      don’t do the trick,

      then God has other plans
      for this planet to bring
      the people back to Him.

      Just wait awhile.

      Oh, and I read on RefFlagNews.com
      that Yellowstone is rumbling and
      could destroy this whole continent
      of North America.

      He can hold this back or
      decide to let it fly.

      According to scripture,
      Earth is renewed
      and there will be a New Earth.

      He has it all under control.
      When this happens, all wrongs will
      become obsolete:change WILL come
      from Obama’s EVIL to what is good
      for mankind.

  23. SaltDogSalty0311

    Hell yeah, bro. Glad your story is finally starting to be heard.

    -Rose

  24. jerry bolduc

    This Marine’s treatment will probably have to be straightened out by a lawyer. And just like the Vietnam guys…hire lawyers in a class action suit then watch as the lawyers walk away with the majority of the settlement money! But at least you’ll get a fairer shake on the disability ratings end.

    40% for a bullet in the lower back (probably messed up his kidneys too) is disgusting. Even just pulling a muscle in your lower back hurts like hell and leaves you almost unable to walk!!! If it hit his pelvis, it probably damaged his leg or at the least the nerves going to the leg. Not to mention the possible damage to his spinal column. I can assure you of this…it’s only going to get worse as he ages!!!

    • jerry bolduc

      I emailed a friend of mine who is pretty knowledgeable about the machinations of the VA system and told him about your plight…this was his response:

      “HOWDY, after so many years, i think 7, he is entitled to SCAR TISSUE and NERVE damage which he has to file on with V.A. He probably should be near 70% and if there is additional medical problems resulting in internal damage that needs to be filed for as well. Ed”

      I’m not sure if he means that you have to wait seven (7) years for the scar tissue and nerve damage awards…you really need to consult with a VA knowledgeable lawyer. If he’ll take it on a contingency basis, you should be good to go…but it may take a while (as in years) because the bigger the payout is, the more his cut will be…works the same with SSD.

      Let your doctor know at EVERY visit (not just once-in-a-while) the pains you are suffering, if any. You need to document this at every step of the way and immediately after every VA doctor visit…so you’ll need to go to the Records Section of whatever VA facility you are using and ask for a copy of the record of each doctor visit so you know exactly what the doctor has officially recorded about you and your condition. You’re CYA! If you don’t, you may be surprised to find out that your doctor has been stabbing you in the back to make him/her self look good to their bosses!!! If there is a discrepancy, you can go back to your doctor whiule it is still fresh in his/her mind and demand that he correct the record!!!

      Just a few things to think about…the more thorough your documentation of each visit, the better your chances are during an appeal if it becomes necessary. And if the VA asks for your documentation, only send a copy…never the original.

      Good luck…many, many others have had to trudge the same path you are on.

  25. Connie

    All these “Good Jobs and slaps on the back” are well deserved-but I know of other COMBAT INJURED SOLDIERS who have been neglected too. I’m sooooo glad that MacElhinney is getting help. Now we need to start a movement to prevent future soldiers from suffering as he did. How do we do that? Who do we write, call, harass to get things changed! I glad his story has been toldnow we need to get to work! Can someone give us some guidance!!!

  26. Nick SSgt (RET)

    I am medically retired with 80% from the Air Force after serving 5 years. This story is very similar to my experience. I was able to stream line my MEB to a year with the help of advocates. Its a broken record how this trend appears to span all branches. I was lucky I wasn’t put in hand cuffs because of how my command had it out for me. All because of the wounds I suffered made me incapable of doing my job. I was placed on squad called ROD(Relieved of Duty). As a wounded warrior I was placed with many people I consider my brothers/sisters but these people we’re on this squad because they had pending criminal charges. I was reduced to hard labor that I couldn’t always perform. I was considered lazy when in fact I couldn’t do what was asked of me without fits of psychosis and extreme pain. I was hospitalized twice for a total of 2 months during my MEB. In the end no one said “So Long, Good Luck” I was there one day and the next I was discharged. I was once a well valued member of the armed forces who took great pride in his job. By the time I left I was considered a problem that had to be dealt with. Like many of you I was abandoned by my command. I thank the Lord for my family and the advocates who fought for my safe exit out of the U.S. military. One thing is very clear to me; a major problem exists in the treatment/care for those who have suffered above and beyond in name of service to our beloved homeland. If you are going through a medical board right now and are realizing the struggle you’re about to endure know that the military is just one page in this chapter of your life. Patience is key to surviving anyone who makes this process more difficult. May the love of God be with you.

    Nick, (RET)SSgt, USAF

  27. jane willow

    Don’t take the VA personally. It’s much the same now as it was for the wounded vets 45 years ago. It is much like SS disability. You make a claim and they reject it after losing all your paper work.

    Keep your paperwork in triplicates in a binder and once the claim is filed don’t give it up. The DAV Disabled American Veterans is the group to join as they will often help with their own attorneys.
    Every state has an agency to help veterans with their federal medical claims too. Its the same agency that allows the license plates most of the time.

    Also, injured veterans think they are weak if they don’t tell the doctor that they are having nightmares and bad dreams and evil thoughts. It is PTSD and that is one way to report to the ER and tell them you can’t continue with the horror frightening nightmares.

    Tell the doctors if you are not able to keep a close relationship. That is also PTSD.

    Tell the doctors for certain if you are drinking till you fall asleep or are driving drunk. Abuse of alcohol is also PTSD

    Tell the doctors if you having pain and feel it is necessary to take pain medication along with extra over the counter pain meds to make it stronger.

    PTSD doesn’t go away. It will become manageable if one is fortunate enough to have a job they like and can stay busy. The quiet times make PTSD worse.

    The bullet wounds or other wounds are seen but the stuff you may have inhaled or touched may not be apparent so include that information if you know it.

    These are the 3 most important clues to PTSD … there are several others that fall into the bad habits like gambling and only able to work at night and sleep in the daytime. Quick temper. Hearing loss. All of this adds up. Keep it in your binder of copies and never give up on your claim once you’ve started it.

    Actually, so much information is on line now and even Congressmen will help get claims going through sometimes or get you information sometimes but way back 40 years ago so many good soldiers who were given the run around by the VA threw in the towel and shouldn’t have.
    They took the game personal and it really isn’t…everybody with a claim gets the bums rush.

  28. Anonymous

    I’m currently at wwb, there really isn’t enough information for marines, I sat at my old battalion for almost a year before wounded warriors accepted me. Luckily I hadn’t started my med board yet and that’s the only thing that saved me from going through what you experienced. But I sat in RBE for 5 to 6 months and was treated like shit. I started a congressional inquiry as well. I have met the marines you speak of. The ones who don’t deserve to be there. I took shrapnel to my face, chest and legs. So believe me meeting one of those little shits is the most aggravating things. I hope your doing better. I’m now sitting in the med board process fighting to get my percentages.

  29. Fred Beggs

    Glad, you have an outpouring of support. As far as the USA, I am really concerned. They have taken on a place of repbrobate.

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