Monday, January 5, 2009

Wounded warriors in Beetlejuice altered universe

Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin played the parts of a newlywed couple that discover they died in the movie Beetlejuice. No one told them. It took a while before they understood it. A ghostly woman playing the part of a social worker from hell didn't seem interested in helping them understand they have just arrived into a world they never thought existed. When they tried to get out of the house being taken over by a nutty family, the door opened into an altered universe. This is what the veterans in this country are discovering as well.

They do what is asked of them and if they come home the way they went into combat, wonderful. The government is done with them. They get on with their lives. When they are members of the National Guards, they go back to their families and jobs. Yet if they are wounded that's when they arrive in a world they never thought existed.

They come up against rules and regulations in a system that is supposed to be there to help them. They run into one nightmare situation after another as the rest of the nation is obliviously walking past them as if they were not there. Much like the ghosts of Beetlejuice, no one sees them while they do whatever they can think of to get the help they need to move on.

Staff Sgt. Ian LeJeune made a lot more money working than he can collect as a disabled veteran. No one wants to see this. Aside from the wounds he has to live with for the rest of his life, financially he is suffering topped off with having to fight for every dime he's entitled to.

We live in a world where we never want to see what goes on in the lives of the men and women we depend on for what we enjoy. No one wants to see the price they pay or how hard they have to fight in combat we send them into or the nightmare they have to go through trying to move on with their lives. It's easier to ignore them as if they weren't there.

Vets fight for benefits
Portsmouth Herald News - Portsmouth,NH,USA
By Susan Morse
January 04, 2009 6:00 AM
Retired Marine Staff Sgt. Ian LeJeune and others wounded in Iraq say they now are fighting a battle at home for veterans benefits.

The system penalizes veterans who are working and is overwhelmed by the large number of returning wounded, according to LeJeune, 30, of Brentwood.

If he had served in World War II or Korea and been wounded as severely as he was in Iraq, he said, he'd probably be dead. He would have at least undergone an amputation.

"World War I, World War II, Korea, if you got hurt, you got an amputation and that's it," LeJeune said. "Today an amputee gets a prosthetic limb and can be out running a marathon."

The system gives additional benefits to veterans who have lost a limb.

Getting benefits for post-traumatic stress, for losing flexibility, for being in the kind of shape in which you want to work but can't do what you once did — these are the kinds of injuries backlogging the system.

"We're combating an archaic VA system," said LeJeune, who has been in contact with the state's congressional delegation about his concerns.

Congress introduced a bill signed into law in December 2007 that increased veterans' funding to help reduce the 400,0000 backlogged claims and 177-day average wait, according to information from U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter's office.

"It has become an adversarial system," said Shea-Porter. "It certainly isn't supposed to be that way. The frustration we're hearing is accurate. Congress is aware of it. Part of the problem is, we didn't have resources; we were forced to make these terrible unfair decisions."

LeJeune has been fighting to get his disability rating at 100 percent. It is now at 90 percent.
"Two-thousand seven hundred dollars a month total disability," Worrall said. "That ain't a lot to live on, (along with) Social Security. I used to make $85,000 a year on the job. I'll be fine because I've planned for retirement. My ability to make that kind of money is gone. What happens to these kids who never had a career? You're going to make them live on three grand a month?" click link above for more


  1. Thank you, you are right on the money with your comments!

    SSgt Ian LeJeune

  2. Thank you-it's a rough world that we live in, I wish my fight was over...but apparently, this is just the beginning.

    SSgt Ian LeJeune

  3. Thank you but believe me, this is one thing I would rather be totally wrong about. Not enough has changed but they've had over 30 years to get this right.

    The blessing is, because veterans like you are willing to talk about this more often, we are a lot closer to getting rid of the stigma that should have never happened. People like you are the real heroes because you don't want others to go thru what you did and are willing to stand up and say it. God Bless you!

    My husband is a Vietnam vet with PTSD. I've been doing this 26 years now and I can tell you I really wish there were more like you back then.


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