Soldier says Army is giving him the runaround on benefit

By: Sarah Platt Email
By: Sarah Platt Email

We all hear about supporting our troops before they leave for war and while they fight, but what happens when they come home?

One local soldier we talked to feels the Army has let him down, after he was injured during training last spring. Sergeant Ball of Leesburg has been in the Army for eight years. He served a year in Iraq in 2003. His unit has been re-deployed, but Ball can't go because of a shoulder injury.

Ball says since the injury last April, the military has denied him incapacitation pay he claims he's owed. In civilian terms, that's worker's compensation. Ball says he's owed more than 20-thousand dollars.

“This is the last resort here. I didn't want to get the media involved,” says Sergeant Ball. Ball says he and his family are getting desperate, stuck in between the military's red tape and paperwork.

Ball seriously injured his shoulder during training last April, but wasn't able to have surgery until December. Ball says that surgery only happened after dealing with unanswered calls and the military losing his paperwork.

“I'd ask, ‘Do you have my paperwork? Got it faxed down there,’” says Ball. “And she says 'Oh yeah, we got it somewhere, we'll find it...,” Ball explains in frustration.

In that time, Ball says he was supposed to start getting incapacitation pay because he wasn't able to work due to his injuries. Ten months later he's still waiting for that pay. “I’ve called the VA, called the Legion, everything I can think of to think of to find out what that paperwork is. If it's a matter of me going out and getting the paperwork to pay me the pay that I am owed to take care of family and pay my bills, that's fine. I just want to know what it is! And nobody can tell me what it is and that's where we stand now,” explains Ball.

The situation has left Ball, his wife, and three young children struggling to pay bills. “My mom got me groceries last night, paid my car payment,” explains Brenda in tears. “We just don't get things.”

Brenda ball is angry. She says her husband is getting the runaround after sacrificing and serving his country at war. “There's no reason why it shouldn't be taken care of. Everything that he's done, it's what you would expect to be given back,” adds Brenda.

Right after his shoulder injury, Ball received worker's comp through his job in the RV industry. However, that pay ended after about four months.

This Friday, Ball has another doctor's appointment. His doctor may clear him to go back to work. But if he's not cleared he must follow the doctor's order and stay home or he would risk any claim he has with the Army.

Newscenter 16 spoke with an Indiana National Guard spokesperson several times on Tuesday.
Lieutenant Colonel Deedra Thombleson says they're missing paperwork and admits there might be a "breakdown" of communication somewhere.

After phone calls from Newscenter 16, Tombleson says she wants to get this taken care of.

Meantime, late Tuesday afternoon, Sergeant Ball tells Newscenter 16 that he did get a phone call and is being assured that his issue will get addressed.

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