Reporting Tony Lopez
MATHER (CBS13) – In Afghanistan, Lonnie Turney knew what he was up against but never in his wildest dreams could this veteran sailor know the fight would continue upon his return home.
It’s a battle for benefits from an injury he says is combat related.
“It came up into my lower lungs,” said Turney.
Shrapnel from a Taliban rocket is now causing him pain and shortness of breath.
But Turney’s running out of breath trying to prove the injury happened in Afghanistan.
“The navy is alleging that I had a truck accident back in 1980,” said Turney. “I was put on a respirator, I was in ICU for 17 days.”
And that’s when Turner says the navy believes the injury occurred.
If that’s true, he wonders why it wasn’t discovered during pre-deployment checkups.
“Because understand, they gave me a physical to make sure I was 100 percent before I went,” said Turney.
Armed with doctor’s notes confirming his injury happened in Afghanistan, Turney is now appealing his case.
But with a severe backlog at the VA Hospital of existing cases, the process will be slow.
“July, it will be a year,” said Turney.
It’s an optimistic outlook from a veteran who feels betrayed and baffled by his battle over benefits.