(NewsNation) – The clock is ticking, waiting for justice. A Green Beret master sergeant spent the day at the Pentagon pushing for answers he’s been waiting for years and running out of time to get.
Purple Heart recipient Richard Stayskal helped revise a rule preventing active duty members from suing the government for medical malpractice at military installations.
Now, more than two years later, Stayskal asks why he and hundreds of other men and women who were allegedly misdiagnosed by military doctors are still waiting for compensation after the money was set aside.
NewsNation’s Kellie Meyer also asked: Does the Pentagon have an answer to her case and the hundreds of others who are awaiting their refunds? And why is it taking so long to happen?
“All I can tell you without going into the details of this matter is that we take this seriously. We follow the law. We treat every complaint seriously and as sensibly as possible,” the carrier replied. word of the Pentagon, John Kirby.
The defense of the Pentagon? There is a process to follow.
“Nothing is more important to the Secretary than the health and well-being of our people and their families, and that is a sacred obligation. But we have to obey the law,” Kirby said.
NewsNation pressed again, asking if there was a possible way to speed up the process, as some people are running out of time. Stayskal, for example, has terminal stage IV lung cancer – a diagnosis his doctors initially missed.
“There is a statutory and very strict, as you would expect, a procedure that must be followed so that complaints can be dealt with impartially and fairly,” Kirby said.
In 2019, Stayskal helped pass a bill, overturning a 1950 Supreme Court ruling, to ensure service members could get this compensation. Even testifying before Congress: “It was a mistake that allowed an aggressive tumor to double in size that stole my life and the life of my family.”
He won the battle and thought his fight for justice was over.
“I thought politics was over. You know, I thought that was the hardest part — it was, like, Congress agreed. They said it was a valid law. We’re going to put it in place and we’re going to stick to it from now on,” Stayskal said.
In 2019, the Richard Stayskal Military Accountability Act was passed by Congress. He authorized $400 million over the next decade for the Department of Defense to pay for military malpractice claims such as Stayskal’s.
Two years later, the delay continues.
“He is at the fourth stage terminal. Everyone knows what that means. Time is not on your side. Yet the process has been so painfully slow,” said Stayskal attorney Natalie Khawam.
“They’re just waiting for them to die and that’s wrong. I’m here to say that won’t happen again,” she continued.
Stayskal says his meeting with the Secretary of the Army went well. It was a great open conversation. But in terms of getting a final answer for himself and so many others who are waiting for this compensation, it’s going to take time and it’s something these veterans just don’t have.
The Pentagon issued the following statement in response to NewsNation:
“There is no ‘typical’ or ‘normal’ processing time for a medical malpractice claim. Medical malpractice claims often involve the review of voluminous medical records and other evidence, as well as interviews with medical providers, claimants, witnesses and expert medical consultants. The timeline for processing any claims depends on the complexity of the facts. The military is in regular communication with MSG Stayskal’s attorney as it continues to work on the claim to completion.
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