A light at the end of the tunnel

Gary Connellis finally got some good news from a physician with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It means his wife and 7-year-old daughter are much closer to getting medical insurance coverage.Since December 2007 Connellis, who was injured two years ago in a bomb blast during the war on terror, has been seeking coverage for his family through the VA’s Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA). The first request was denied because there hadn’t been a determination that any of the injuries Connellis suffered from a roadside bomb were permanent conditions.Connellis, 39, still suffers from numerous injuries from the incident that occurred in when he was in the Army. He is asking the Army to declare him 100 percent disabled; so far they’ve found him 30 percent disabled. But he’s appealing.Connellis lives in Leavenworth and was honorably discharged from the Army because of his injuries. He is getting treatment for post traumatic stress disorder. Not all of his injuries are necessarily permanent. But he does have three different types of arthritis as a result of the injuries. As far as Connellis knows, there is no cure for arthritis.Connellis recently switched to a different VA physician. That physician agreed to write a letter stating that his osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine and arthritis in the knee are permanent conditions.But more is needed. Connellis was told by a representative of the Veterans of Foreign Wars that the physician’s statement also has to say that the conditions are “service connected and total.””So I’m seeing a light at the end of the tunnel but nothing’s complete, yet,” Connellis said.Updates about Connellis’ post-military bureaucratic battles will be carried in future blogs. You also can read the first blog about him.We want to know about people in the military from the Douglas County area. Where are they deployed? When will they come home? What are their experiences? What are families here at home facing? If you are currently in the military and want to communicate with us, that’s fine, too. Please send me an e-mail.