Injured Soldier Caught in Loophole
"It's just been too much to take in," lamented Wally, "because everyday it seems like there's another problem." In the past two weeks, her husband of twenty-six years has gone from being physician's assistant and war hero to ICU patient.
A military medic for years, Major Donald Spradlin survived a tour in Iraq, "Pulling people out of Humvees and doing courageous work to save people," said brother Ronald. But back stateside, Spradlin fell victim to a car crash Tracy City.
"His left arm and his pelvis were severely damaged and they had to repair them," explained Ronald. "Then, today he is recovering from having surgery on his jaw and cheekbones in his face."
"It was a very difficult time when he left for sixteen months," said wife Wally. "I thought it was the hardest I ever had to do. But, this is different and in a way it's even harder."
Problems keep mounting. First, the major is being denied medals he earned for his life-saving work in Iraq because of military red-tape. Even more serious, right now, he is being denied benefits. "He's like in a limbo," said Ronald. "He can't get any veterans' benefits cause he's still in the service. He's not active, so he's not eligible for real benefits. He's not inactive, so he can't get retirement pay or anything else."
The medical expenses are covered. There are the everyday expenses that are on hold. "Wally" credits her school and her church for helping. She is a substitute teacher with a daughter in college, a teenager at home and her oldest expecting any day now.
"You know, he's worked hard all of his life," remarked Ronald, "so I'd hate to see him lose his home." But in these difficult days, the family looks to Major Spradlin's spirit and they face the challenge head-on. "He likes what he does and he won't back away from the challenge. Even when they're firing around him and everything else, when other people are running away, he's still running forward," said brother Ronald. The major has been awake and he has recognized family. Mrs. Spradlin wanted to recognize two nursing students who stopped to help the evening her husband crashed: Michelle Griffin and Angela Stevens. She calls them angels. As for the medals, Congressman Zach Wamp's office is said to be working with Congressman Lincoln Davis's office, he represents Spradlin's home district, to try to cut through the red tape. Reported by Greg Glover