Paralyzed Green Beret Could Lose Medical Benefits Over Good Samaritan Mistake
Soldiers returning from active duty have always faced tough adjustments to civilian life, but the stressors confronting those who have served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and returned to a failed care system through the Veterans’ Administration are putting the futures and the very survival of vets in jeopardy.
A system designed to exclude needy vets to save money on benefits may be behind the effort to saddle a paralyzed Green Beret with a dishonorable discharge and deny him medical benefits because of an error in judgment.
Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Brumit, who admits to having “struggled” with substance abuse since returning from eight combat tours, made a split-second decision when he heard a Coast Guard alert about a missing girl – taking action, as the elite soldiers are trained to do.
Believing he saw a figure flailing in water, Brumit dove into what turned out to be shallow water, hit a sandbar and broke his neck, becoming paralyzed in the process.
The little girl was later found safe, but the Army has declared Brumit’s action as reckless and negligent, claiming it stemmed from his history of drug and alcohol use.
The determination means the paralyzed vet will not receive medical care, subjecting his family to certain-bankruptcy and jeopardizing the level of care he can receive.
Brumit, who admits he drank on the day of the injury, but denies being intoxicated or having drugs in his system, lives with his parents, and has already undergone seven surgeries since the devastating injury.
Now, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) is pressuring the Army to reconsider its position.
Lt. Gen. Kenneth E. Tovo, Commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, has asked Army Human Resources Command to “reconsider” the determination.
In a heartfelt letter to Hunter, Brumit acknowledged his struggles, but said the Army had “failed” him as he sought help to deal with PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and secondary Substance Use Disorder (SUD).
Hunter said Brumit was prevented from getting necessary treatment and even removed from drug-and-alcohol treatment by the 7th Special Forces Group to return to duty.
To his credit, Tovo responded saying, “it is undisputed that Brumit’s multiple combat tours created stressors at home” that could have contributed to substance abuse, adding he wanted to “err on the side of the soldier. Based on the totality of the circumstances, a review of these unknown factors warrants reconsideration.”