Daniel Foster, the decorated former Army veteran who was wounded in Afghanistan and has waited more than a year to receive veterans benefits, got a partial response from the Department of Veterans Affairs this week, but much less than he hoped.
The VA tentatively ranked his overall disabilities at 40 percent, much lower than he anticipated, and it didn’t address shrapnel damage to the bones in his mouth and his teeth, Foster said. As things stand now, he is due to receive a check for around $6,000 to cover back payments.
“He’s going to have to fight for it [increased benefits]. It isn’t right,” said Deanne Tate, president of the nonprofit Veterans First, who began helping Foster earlier this month after he was unable to get a response from the VA on his own.
Foster was awarded the Silver Star for bravery and a Purple Heart for injuries he suffered during a 2010 suicide bomber attack on his post in Afghanistan. However, he has yet to receive any VA benefits, and until recently he and his disabled father were facing foreclosure on their family home in Costa Mesa.
Tate said they’ve asked his congressman, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), for help to get Foster full benefits. Rohrabacher’s office earlier said it was willing to intercede on behalf of Foster and other veterans.
After Foster was discharged from the Army in October 2010, his disability paperwork was sent mistakenly to the VA office in Winston Salem, N.C., where it apparently sat until Tate began pushing for answers.
Foster said the VA has all of his medical records from the time he was in intensive care in a hospital in Germany. In addition, he said, months ago he had his mouth examined at the VA hospital in Long Beach.
In a letter dated Nov. 16, the VA said he needed another dental examination before a decision could be made on repairing his mouth.
Based on the current decision, said Foster and Tate, he’ll receive disability payments of $541 a month, but both said he should be receiving about twice that. They said the VA report minimizes the extent of his permanent head injuries, among other medical issues.
“I’m not happy with the VA anymore,” said Foster, who previously said he didn’t blame the agency because he believed it was underfunded and didn’t have enough staff.
— TRACY WOOD