MADISONVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A U.S. Army veteran believes he’s a step closer to seeking disability benefits for post-traumatic stress.
He’s been fighting for those rights since the beginning of 2018.
He says he was injured during a training exercise, in which a round going off while he was inside a tank – troubles him to this day.
It happened more than 30 years ago, when the U.S. had a big military force in Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Billy Queen receives 10% disability from the Veteran’s Administration for hearing loss. But he’s been trying to get 100% disability for post-traumatic stress.
For the last few years, Queen has been unable to work; his wife, his caregiver.
They’ve recently received news that has picked up their spirits.
Rose Queen has to assist her husband Billy with little things — just getting up a small step is difficult. Billy, who’s 55, has Parkinson’s and multi-system atrophy in which he loses balance easily.
As an US Army radio operator in the mid-1980s, Billy says he suffered a traumatic incident that continues to trouble him. He says a live round went off inside his Bradley Fighting Vehicle during a training mission.
For the last 18 months, Mr. Queen has tried to get disability benefits for PTSD from the VA. We contacted the VA in July about his case.
Within weeks paperwork started flowing between the VA and Billy.
“After your initial visits, things started happening pretty fast after that,” Billy Queen tells WATE 6 On Your Side’s Don Dare.
“Two days after your interview we started getting phone calls. So I do see that they are trying,” says Rose Queen.
During the early summer, Billy was in a nursing home learning to walk again. At home, it’s a struggle. So the VA sent a care giver to assist both Billy and Rose.
“They started to help us by sending someone from the VA to stay will Billy twice a week for a few hours so I could leave the home and go shopping,” says Rose Queen.
But it’s that traumatic incident in 1985 that troubles Billy to this day as he told us in early August.
“Several years ago, Billy started having nightmares where he would wake up and start hitting me,” Rose Queen said. “I really couldn’t understand what was going on.”
“The round went off, everybody started screaming. We didn’t know if we were hurt or anything,” Billy recalls. “Thirty years later, I’m tearing up the bedroom, waking up because — I had a waking dream that it had happened, it kept coming back.”
In mid-August the VA reminded the Queens about their pending appeal for the PTSD diagnosis. At the same time, the Veterans Administration ordered tests for her husband at the VA hospital in Nashville.
And he still isn’t well; recently, he hit his head and Rose had to help him off the floor of the kitchen.
“When I get up too soon, too fast, my blood pressure spikes,” he said.
Back to that incident in Germany, Billy’s found some former soldiers through social media who might verify how he was injured. He needs that information if he’s to be considered for benefits for PTSD.
“I have to make sure they have proof that the incident happened. The only proof I have are people who heard about it,” he said.
The Queens say for the first time in months, they believe the VA understands he’s hurting and are optimistic about the disability claim under review.
“It might take still a year before this happens,” Rose Queen said.
The Queens tell us three appointments Billy had with doctors at the VA a few days ago in Nashville went well. Results from several of his tests should be known soon.
Just a few weeks ago, Billy Queen was grated Social Security disability benefits, after appearing before a Social Security Administrative judge.
For that, he is grateful.