In 1986, I was in the Army National Guard for a few months under the delayed entry program when I was 17 years of age. The delayed entry program allowed me to complete basic training during the summer before the start of my senior year of high school. While I was in basic training, I injured my left ankle severely, and was put on a rigorous physical therapy schedule. After 2 weeks of therapy, I was instructed to complete my physical requirements. My ankle was not fully healed, and as a result, I have had countless injuries to my left ankle. A recent medical exam and xray of my ankle indicates that I have the ankle of an elderly man with arthritis (I am 34 yrs of age).
After completing basic training, I was told that I had to sign a statement indicating that I was in the same condition after basic training as when I went in. I was also told that if I did not sign this, I would not be able to return home. I was 17 years of age, and was not asked to seek counsel before signing this statement, nor were my parents informed of such a decision.
Should I seek legal counsel to compensate for my injuries? If so, are there attorneys that specialize in this field?
2 Answers from Attorneys
Re: Military Injury
There is legal doctrine from 1950 called the Feres Doctrine which prevents service members and their families from suing the military and individual soldiers for injuries. This doctrine is currently being challenged in court. You will probably have difficulty getting money for injuries unless this doctrine is overturned. The statute of limitations may have run in your case anyway.
Re: Military Injury
Another approach may be to contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) and see if you can file a claim for a service-related disability.
There are many different things you must do to successfully perfect such a claim, but if approved, you could qualify for monthly disability payments or therapy and/or treatments in DVA hospitals.
Having a lawyer who focuses on these sorts of issues can be very helpful.
To start this process, I suggest that you go to the following web site for more information: