Huntsville veteran shares difficulty receiving care - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Huntsville veteran shares difficulty receiving care

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Julian Leatherwood claims he's been stuck paying for his own rehab and treatments despite VA approval for the procedure. Julian Leatherwood claims he's been stuck paying for his own rehab and treatments despite VA approval for the procedure.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Julian Leatherwood understands that the injuries to his knee and ankle may be low-priority compared to others in worse shape, but he said he's been fighting the Department of Veterans Affairs for years, with very little success in getting treatment.

The paperwork going back and forth with the VA is piling up. Leatherwood, who lives in Huntsville, served in the Army as an infantryman for six years in the 1970s and injured his ankle and shoulder during training maneuvers.

He never made a claim – just lived with the pain.

Then he served in the Navy for a further four years, during which time he injured his knee, before being honorably discharged for a physical disability.

He was granted reconstructive surgery on the knee, but claims he's been stuck paying for his own rehab and treatments ever since. He also claims they won't even touch his ankle, claiming it is a birth defect – not an injury from service.

For years, Leatherwood has been appealing the VA's refusal to pay for further treatments.

"I think I have a right too," said Leatherwood. "At least I'm healthy enough to complain. It's not my mouth that's the problem here, thank God. It's not my heart or kidneys. If I had a heart condition and have had to wait this long, I would be dead."

Leatherwood does admit he underwent several VA compensation and pension examinations during the adjudication of his claims.

According to board documents, Leatherwood appealed a March 2008 decision by the Board of Veterans' Appeals denying his claims for entitlement to service connection for a left knee disability to include as secondary to a service-connected right knee injury.

It states the Board noted that a 2006 examination concluded that "there was no casual relationship between the changes and symptoms in the {appellant's} left knee and the service-connected right knee."

However, Leatherwood claims in 2012 the VA re-evaluated his disability rating and increased it from 40-percent to 50-percent, which factors into his compensation allowance.

We will keep you updated on any progress Leatherwood makes with the VA.

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