First, what is SCAADL?
"SCAADL is a special monthly compensation for eligible catastrophically injured or ill Service members who require assistance with activities of daily living or who are at a high risk for personal safety and cannot live independently in the community without caregiver support. SCAADL, authorized by the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (Public Law 111-84), provides financial assistance for the non-medical care, support and assistance by a primary caregiver for the Service member." http://www.dfas.mil/militarymembers/woundedwarrior/woundedwarriorpay.html
To give a little background when my husband was first assigned to the WTU he was encouraged to apply for SCAADL. We both blew it off. We would be asked constantly if we had applied because I did everything for him. Several months later we decided to apply. At this point no one knew how we went about applying. Finally in December we were given guidance and got the appointment at Occupational Therapy to fill out the evaluation form. This happened via a referral from his WTU primary care doctor. The person he saw had no knowledge of my husband.
We gave that person the pertinent information with complete trust that he would correctly fill out the form.
In December when we applied we knew that he had some form of dementia even though it was not yet diagnosed. It's not hard to figure out when you live it daily.
He was diagnosed with Progressive Dementia January 31, 2014. The doctor actually told us before that but that is when it went in the chart. That is when all hell broke loose at the WTU. For some reason as I've written about before they simply refused to accept that diagnosis. As if an MRI showing hippocampal atrophy can lie.
The following week we were told his SCAADL application was denied. Mikey checked the box saying we planned to appeal. The Company Commander told us to see the Squad Leader for instruction. I asked the SL and he didn't know how to appeal but would look into it. The next week when I would ask the person that could help would be gone or didn't answer an email. It was one excuse after another.
In March when I met with the Brigade Commander he told me he took SCAADL very seriously and he had someone in S3 help us that same evening. That was three days before our 60 day time limit was expired! She composed a letter with information that we gave her. She let us proof read that letter. We handed her current medical documentation that had Lewy Body Dementia and the MRI and other pertinent information. She scanned it all in. She said if we were satisfied she would send it right then. It was okay so we said to send it.
What we did not see and were never offered a chance to read was the information that went with our letter. Documents that we could have rebutted had we seen them. An evaluation that was so ridiculous and signed by a Doctor that has no knowledge of my husband. The memorandum for record from the Company Commander and another form saying he did not have a catastrophic illness. All of which recommended the appeal for SCAADL be denied.
We finally got to see that information when we were told our appeal was denied and the decision was final. The information that was sent with ours included a letter from the then Company Commander that contained lies. Yes, lies. That is a harsh word and it is a simple word but it is the best word.
If you have followed along at all you know that my husband has actively sought treatment for drinking. Not just one treatment but several. His research was why SMART Recovery got started for Fort Hood soldiers! He took one medication to reduce his cravings so he could slowly cut back and then after a week of detoxification (that he checked himself into) he asked to be put on Antabuse. Antabuse is a medication that prevents you from even coming into contact with alcohol. If you drink while on it you WILL get very sick.
On to the statement.
This is verbatim and SM means service member. The memo was signed on March 19, 2014.
“SM has developed an alcohol dependency and refuses treatment given to him to assist his condition.”
He recommended that SCAADL be denied. He said that Mikey is able to show up for work on his own and take care of himself. The level of deceit in his memo made me so angry I didn't dare speak to anyone for two days.
I continued to read the other information sent. The Brigade Surgeon (Yes, the same one that expired Mikey's dementia profiles!) recommended SCAADL be denied because Mikey does not have a permanent catastrophic illness.
I really question that particular Doctors abilities to properly care for wounded soldiers!
Okay, let's look at the eligibility for SCAADL.
To be eligible to receive SCAADL, a Service member, whether Active or Reserve, must:
Has a catastrophic injury or illness incurred in the line of duty which compromises their ability to carry out activities of daily living such that he/she requires personal or mechanical assistance to leave the home or bed and/or requires constant supervision to avoid physical harm to self or others;
Has been certified by a licensed physician to be in need of assistance from another person to perform the personal functions of everyday living; or
Would, in the absence of this provision, require some form of residential institutional care
Now let's look at the Doctor's best educated guess on the type of dementia my husband has. I say best guess because there is no way to be 100% certain until the brain can be examined after death. Lewy Body Dementia. (There has also been confirmation of that diagnosis from a Doctor that is independent from Army protocol.)
Lewy body dementia is progressive. Signs and symptoms worsen, causing:
- Severe dementia
- Death, on average about eight years after onset of the condition
- Treatment can be challenging, and there's no cure for Lewy body dementia. Instead, doctors treat the individual symptoms.
Point two. In need of assistance by another person? He has a "no driving profile" that also states he has to have someone with him at ALL times. I think that would say he needs assistance.
Point three. The neurologist has said on more than one occasion that I will need to start looking at homes for him or at the very least day care centers. I will not do that as long as I am able to care for him! But if I were not here to care for him, what do you think would happen? Yes, he would be put in a nursing home.
I just don't know how else to express my level of frustration at the constant shenanigans of this particular WTU. The former Company Commander would even rant during morning formations about his friend that had cancer NEVER applied for SCAADL. I am certain by my own uncomfortable feeling from these rants that any soldier that had applied felt bad for doing so.
I spoke with many members of the Chain of Command last week. I told them I felt the entire SCAADL thing was a farce not to mention a huge waste of time and causes undue stress. If they don't intend to help soldiers that need it then why offer it?
WTU has been a nightmare from day 1. There are honestly nice people there. Those people can't make a difference when there are people in command with a purpose of making the wounded soldiers lives miserable.
I honestly believe that IF the same Commander were there we would never have seen what was in that packet. I don't think the new Commander knew what was in it and when I asked for copies he readily gave them to me. I had asked the former Commander for more information at the first denial counseling. We never received anything, not even a copy of the counseling.
This week after receiving advice from The Office of the Surgeon General I requested a new appointment to have a current evaluation done on my husband. I was refused that appointment. Yes, you read that right. The Primary Doctor (also a WTU doctor who will only do what they tell him to) and the Command said he could NOT be reevaluated.
An email to the case manager from the Office of the Surgeon General made them change their minds. We don't have the appointment yet. They know we don't have much time to get all this done. A referral will go in Tuesday. It'll be interesting to see how fast that appointment gets made.
It's not about the money anymore. It's about Fort Hood WTU doing what is right for the soldiers they are SUPPOSED to be taking care of. I'm sure we'll never see SCAADL but I will continue to fight to get policy changes made to make sure other soldiers have a better chance if they apply.