Veteran Fights For Benefits Promised After Injuries In War - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Veteran Fights For Benefits Promised After Injuries In War

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FLUSHING, Mich. (WLNS) - Michelle Rudzitis, a woman from Flushing, will be among the veterans honored at Lugnuts Stadium this coming September 11th. Though she hasn't seen combat in almost six years, since she came home from Iraq, she's had an entirely new war to fight right here at home.

 

 

"Our vehicle was hit with a roadside bomb," she remembers.

 

Michelle doesn't remember most of it. She didn't know the extent of her injuries until the next day.

"This happened at about 6:30 in the evening on a Monday. When I woke up that next Tuesday afternoon, my leg was already gone," said Michelle.

Doctors amputated Michelle's left leg and considered amputating her right. They were able to salvage it, despite that, she says she misses serving her country.

 

"I just loved what I did and I miss it desperately everyday and I wish I could have it back. It just sort of got taken from me," she says.

Now, on American soil, Michelle feels like something else is being taken, or rather withheld from her: her veteran benefits to which she's entitled.

 

"It's a whole nother world and a whole nother fight and basically a whole nother war. Years and years later, I'm still asking the same questions.

The Veteran's Affairs website says Michelle's entitled to up to $50,000 for injuries to the leg she still has because it was damaged enough for doctors to consider amputating. She's tried to file a claim, called the VA, gone through four caseworkers and pleaded with state politicians for over four years. But she hasn't seen a dime.

 

"As of now, they're telling me that I need to track down the original surgeon that did the surgery. Have him say that he was going to take the leg and that they decided to salvage it instead," she says. But when looking at it realistically, she says she just "hope he remembers me."

t's been a long recovery for Michelle, who says she just wants to get on with her life. "I just want what's owed to me and I don't want any more and I don't want any less."

 

So why has it taken four and a half years for her to get the insurance money they owe her? 6 News to find out why it has taken so long for someone to help steer Michelle in the right direction.

We researched and looked into the story, but it took almost two days just to get the right person on the phone. When we finally did, they said Michelle hasn't gotten her money because she hasn't filed a claim. But she says she's been trying to file a claim for four years.

 

 

We  spoke to about ten different people from the VA to the Army's Human Resources and finally got in touch with the VA Insurance Department who said they took Michelle's info and told me they're sending her paperwork to file a claim.

 

But she's had caseworkers and assistance for the past four years that sent her all over the place. She even went to DC at one point. It took us doing this story to finally get her to the right people.

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