On a day when community leaders gathered to bring awareness to the importance of honoring those who serve and remaining patriotic, disabled veteran Larry Howard, of Minford, says remembering the sacrifices made by men and women who risked their lives is a great need for many veterans.
Howard explained that he and many other service members who were injured in the line of duty have come home to be forgotten and left to fight a new battle of living civilian lives and providing for their families with old service injuries.
Howard served in the Army, enlisting when he was only 17-years-old. He says he enlisted for opportunity.
“There wasn’t that much work around, and I was out of school, so I went ahead and enlisted in the military,” he remembered.
Howard was part of the 25th infantry stationed in Hawaii just after his unit returned from Vietnam. He got out in 1974 only to re-enlist in 1976. Howard explained that he wanted to make a career out of being in the military, but an injury prevented him from doing so. In an accident in a dust cloud, Howard was thrown from the military vehicle and was hit in the head and shoulder by a gun mount. The accident occurred in 1977. He remained in the military until the spring of 1979 before Howard says that his injury had ended his military career. Because he had an injury-related profile, he was not required to do physical training (PT), which limited his ability to advance and be successful for a career term.
Once Howard returned home, he went to work and worked in jobs that required physical labor despite his service injury. Though the military acknowledged his injury, he was not given veteran disability benefits and going to work was his only option. He a service-connected cervical strain with 0 percent disability according to the military.
Working was not a problem, according to Howard. Still, since his service, Howard says he has seen veterans fighting for the services they are entitled to, fighting to be respected in their community and struggling just to eat — something that is very much a problem for him.
“It’s really sad,” Howard stated. “They take our soldiers overseas and get them all lamed and maimed and bring them back and turn their back on them.”
13 years after coming home from service, Howard was injured in an industrial accident and became 100 percent disabled. However, upon looking into his injury, doctors and lawyers and agreed that Howard’s industrial accident is linked to his military injury. As a result, his case was since overturned. By law the case is to be handled with an expeditious manner as stated in his proceedings. In order for the decision to be overturned and for him to finally get his benefits, Howard has to wait for a judge in Washington D.C. to review that case and agree. It has been five years since his case was overturned and 40 years since his injury occurred. Howard says he experiences constant pain from that day that his clavicle was crushed requiring part of it be removed in order for him to regain use of his arm. According the veteran, the accident has left him with constant pain in his neck. He is still waiting for any benefits due to him for this injury.
Howard said he has and continues to belong to various military organizations and has marched in the nation’s capital with other service members fighting to be remembered and supported for all they sacrificed in service of their country.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.