Knoxville, Tenn. (WATE) — Terry Laudermilk was in the Air Force from 1967-71. While on duty in late 1970, he slipped on a catwalk at Zaragosa Air Base in Spain resulting in a crushed disk in his lower back. After he fulfilled his military duty, he underwent surgery where something went wrong.
“I can’t work, and I can’t get out of bed unless I take drugs that help stimulate the nerves in my back,” Terry said.
The failed surgery left 74-year-old Laudermilk unable to work for years. Doctor’s diagnosed him with PTSD due to his time in the service, granting him with 30% disability as well as 10% disability from a service connected to hearing loss. He is able to draw a total of $900 a month in Social Security benefits with the help of his wife Lee who does her best to make financial ends meet.
“My whole family served in the military, my son is still in it,” Lee Laudermilk said. “It just angers me to see them treat the military like this, that have fought and served for our country.”
When asked what it would mean to him to receive 100% unemployability, service connected to hearing loss, and service connected to tinnitus, Terry responded, “that would mean I could survive.”
According to Veterans Affairs, there are more than 14,000 people ahead of Laudermilk in the appeal process, even after 14 years. Two days before Christmas, Terry received a letter from the VA that states his appeal has been placed on the docket and will be handled expeditiously. The VA says a decision should be reached within 90 days. That final date would be March 23.
“I think I need a decision to my disability,” Terry said. “It’s been too long.”