Columbus Veteran Lobbies To Expedite Veterans Affairs Claims

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Ex Navy corpsman Michael Fairman helped develop an online reporting method for veterans who suffered possible brain injuries. He's traveling the state with Democratic US Senator Sherrod Brown to build legislative support for adoption by the VA.(Photo: Tom Borgerding)
Ex Navy corpsman Michael Fairman helped develop an online reporting method for veterans who suffered possible brain injuries. He's traveling the state with Democratic US Senator Sherrod Brown to build legislative support for adoption by the VA.(Photo: Tom Borgerding)

A Columbus veteran says he’s found a way to more accurately document brain injuries in combat service. The new way of tracking invisible injuries could speed claims for medical help and compensation at Veterans Affairs.

During more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, thousands of soldiers, sailors and marines suffered difficult to detect brain injuries. As a reserve medical corpsman with Lima Company, Michael Fairman of Columbus, treated soldiers and marines in Afghanistan. He says too often, too many returning veterans with symptoms of brain injuries have difficulty getting proper treatment from Veterans Administration for lack of proof that they were exposed to battlefield trauma.

Fairman developed a way veterans can establish a connection between possible brain injury and military service. It allows individuals in combat and support units to make on-line additions to field incident reports.

“As an individual, I can come back and I can enter in something into the tracker. And the beauty of this is that it gets verified against the patrol reports that have our name on it, against the significant action reports, all these reports that get called in,” says Fairman. “So, our leadership can sit there and go, yep he was here, this did happen and so we can approve that event or he’s not in this list, this didn’t happen, so we can deny that event.”

Fairman says creation of what he calls the “significant event tracker” could speed medical claims of veterans with either Post Traumatic Stress or mild Traumatic Brain injury. Democratic U-S Senator Sherrod Brown is sponsoring legislation to allow self-reporting by veterans. But, during a stop at a Columbus VFW post, Brown was unsure of the chances for congressional passage.

“There won’t be much disagreement but the house and senate work in a way now that makes anything difficult. But, my first goal is going to be to talk to the Department of Defense and work with them on how to make this start happening,” says Brown.

Senator Brown says inclusion of online self reports on battlefield trauma should make the VA deliver care “more precisely, more accurately, and more quickly.” Brown serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

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