Waiting for benefits

Jared Starkel looks through his 28 page VA paperwork. Photo by: AJ Chavar
"He said it was going to be a lot. But, yeah, this is a lot."
Jared Starkel
Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran

It's been almost four months since Jared Starkel first applied for his medical benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Monday, Jared got his first sign of aid: a letter in the mail acknowledging his application.

But in the 24, front and back, page packet were statements asking for proof of Jared's medical disabilities. "It came about three of four months earlier than I thought it would," Jared said. When he sent in his claims, Jared notified the VA that his hearing and back were affected from his time in Iraq. Now that the VA has acknowledged his claims, Jared must go to the VA Medical Center in Spokane to verify that his claims are true-- even proof of his PTSD.

Spokane is more than 180 miles from where Jared lives in Oroville‚ bout a three and a half hour drive. With baby Garryn's delivery date fast approaching, Jared is crunched for time to reply to the VA. In the letter, officials from the VA stated that Jared had 30 days to send proof of his injuries sustained in Iraq. "If you don't fill out one thing right, it could throw everything off." Jared said.

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