CHITTENANGO, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Congressman Anthony Brindisi celebrated Veterans Day by hosting a town hall meeting, focused on veterans issues, at Clear Path for Veterans.
While he was willing to discuss any issue, the veterans’ questions kept coming back to the topic of healthcare and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
That issue is especially important to Jacki Boulter from Chittenango, a U.S. Army Veteran.
Boulter, an Ithaca native who enrolled with the U.S. Army as a student at Clarkson University, came back home with Achilles tendinitis and constant pain. She blames the permanent injury, that now requires surgery on the daily six-mile runs in boots with 35 pounds of gear.
Jacki Boulter tells NewsChannel 9’s Andrew Donovan, “I was going to be the first female in my battalion done with that run. My soldiers, especially my male soldiers, would see me coming. They’d say, ‘We aren’t going to let her beat us.’ There was the competition. That was part of who I was and why I was successful in the military, but it’s also the reason that we would get hurt.”
Boulter is the first to downplay her condition, aware that many of her comrades had it worse, especially those who enlisted after her in the early 2000s who ended up fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Boulter says, “Is it affecting my life? Yes. Guess what? I can’t do some of the things I want to do. I can’t be with my kids. They know, ‘mom can’t do that, can’t play football, mom can’t do those things.’ They know.”
Boulter waited years to file a disability claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Once she did, she’s still waiting years.
She filed in March of 2017, what she says feel like 500 or 600 days. It’s actually more than 900.
Boulter had the chance to share her story with Congressman Anthony Brindisi at his Town Hall. His office can help in two days: Intervene in Boulter’s individual case and work to change the structural issues within the VA.
Boulter says, “I know they have budgetary restrictions, but I would like to think that we could get service members compensation. They deserve in a manner consistent with the way they fought for our country.”
NewsChannel 9 took Boulter’s case to the Department of Veterans Affairs. A press secretary says the department will reach out to Boulter.
She says, “Any time a Veteran or family member has a concern, we reach out to them directly, just as we will do with the Veteran in this case.
The VA claims that as of October 18, VA was processing disability benefits claims in an average of 98.6 days.
“Currently, just 73,019 disability benefits claims have been pending for more than 125 days, down from a high of more than 600,000 in 2013 during the Obama administration,” claims the press secretary.
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For more local news, follow Andrew Donovan on Twitter @AndrewDonovan