WASHINGTON — More than 100 veterans have in recent months filed non-combat related disability claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs due to years of overexposure to meals, ready-to-eat, and that number is expected to rise, sources confirmed today.
Some 20 military veterans announced their intentions to protest at the headquarters of the VA later this week, in an effort to shine a light on what they believe has been a vastly-overlooked ailment for veterans who have transitioned to the civilian world.
“We all raised our right hand to defend the Constitution of the United States of America," said Rob Darling, an Army veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. “I never imagined that years after I got out, the four fingers of death would still be a part of me.”
In his claim to the VA, Darling wrote that the overexposure has led to debilitating symptoms which make it hard to enjoy interacting with other people due to having gas, as well as his having a hard time sitting for long periods of time.
“I’ve been out since ’12, but it feels like I am still sitting behind a half blown-out wall," he said.
The blame, veterans say, lies with the Department of Defense and its unwillingness to properly educate junior troops about the importance of moderation. Although MREs are primarily field rations, many service-members stockpile them for consumption while in garrison.
Phillip Carr, an eight-year Marine veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said it wasn’t until he finally separated last year that he realized how serious things had become.
“There honestly wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t eat at least one — even at home," he said, noting that he now averages just one bowel movement per month. "This [lack of] shit isn't funny anymore."
While veterans are hopeful that their claims for compensation and medical treatment will be taken seriously, they are cognizant of the frustrating and drawn-out process that comes from dealing with the beleaguered government agency.
“The VA is just as backed up as we are," Carr said.