FORT PAYNE, Ala. (WHNT) – All gave some. Some gave all. Veterans are no stranger to sacrifice. A Fort Payne man served in the Navy. He survived an injury, but now believes the injury is killing him in more ways than one.
Glen Fowler called WHNT News 19 saying he has a problem with how the Department of Veterans Affairs has him classified.
Military records are a big deal for those of us who served. Fowler has a spinal injury. He told me he got it while deployed more than 50 years ago. He says the VA considers the injury non-service connected. Fowler has spent years telling doctors that is not true. He wants the status changed.
Fowler joined the Navy in 1945. He left active duty in 1946, but returned in 1950. He got out of uniform for good two years later. Fowler fought in World War II and the Korean War as part of the Amphibious Landing Forces.
“I served as a gunner on anti-aircraft gun. However, in making landings, I use my firearms, a .45 pistol or an M1 rifle,” said Fowler.
The Navy veteran was used to storming onto shore. He knew getting hurt was a possibility. The sailor recalls one boat ride during WWII.
“It was like I was going to die,” added Fowler.
Fowler remembers a group of Japanese fighters meeting him first. He says the Japanese battery knocked his boat off the ship.
“I remember when it fell. I heard my back crack. I knew I was injured,” added Fowler.
He was 17 years old. He got medical treatment on the ship, but thought he would have no problem healing. After all, he was young.
Time continued to pass. Fowler began to age. He started to have problems. Doctors at a public hospital knew something went wrong decades earlier.
“They knew because an x-ray showed shell fragments down around my spine. It had been there from 17 to that age,” added Fowler.
Fowler was 62. The doctors sent him to the VA hospital in Birmingham. He says doctors there diagnosed him with severe spinal injury called Torticollis.
The veteran told WHNT News 19 the military won’t pay for any of his treatment. The military considers the injury non-service connected.
“I am the worst treated disabled war veteran in America. I sincerely believe that,” added Fowler.
Fowler needs the military to classify the injury as service connected to ease the pressure on his wallet.
Fowler said, “It`s a real struggle. Can you imagine I am trying to live on less than $2,000 a month?”
WHNT News 19 has worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs many times. They’ve always cooperated to help tell a story. But, the VA won’t talk this time.
A VA spokesman told WHNT News 19 Fowler retained a lawyer to look into his situation and no one at the VA can work on Fowler’s behalf. WHNT News 19 is trying to communicate with Fowler’s attorney.