Help Veterans like me get the services they deserve to be active members of society

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A Veteran’s letter for help…

Hello, my name is Nicholas DeMuth.  I am an Army Infantry Veteran(SFAS qualified) who served his country and now I am asking for your help this Memorial day.  I was a successful member of the community until my service connected back issue led to severe unemployment and now I am about to lose everything.  This Memorial day is difficult for me as this has been a multiple year battle with the VA to get the adequate services that I need. This Memorial Day let us not forget the many many veterans who slip through the cracks, especially because of invisible disabilities.  I have two big asks: Will you help me write the end of this story in a way that not just helps me, but helps veterans facing similar issues so they can also have happy endings to their stories? Will you help me ask Senator Michael Bennett how the VA services in Colorado have gotten this bad and how we can come together as a state to do better?  If you can help financially until I get help from the VA for housing, medical care and trauma work go to:

My story is long and lengthy so I plan to break it into 3 important pieces that I will summarize below.  I am willing to provide details and records to back up my claims. (1) I have asked repeatedly and failed to get adequate treatment for my PTSD, Physical Assault by my fellow soldiers and Non-Alcoholic Liver Disease possibly related to the assault.  (2) I have asked for an increase in my disability and was supposed to get 100% temporary disability to help right away, instead I am bankrupt, about to be homeless and have lost most of my possessions including my home. (3) I am seeking vocational rehabilitation via Chapter 31 because I now have a severe employment handicap.  Instead of help I am being lied to, denied communication from and facing resistance from the VA Counselor.

Part 1 Assaulted by my own troops because of my faith (It’s one thing to prepare to fight a war against an enemy, but no one should have to simultaneously fight a war against his own troops because of his faith.)

I willing chose to serve in the infantry(I qualified for anything), because I wanted to serve my country in the greatest way possible.  I was harassed and physically assaulted by my own fellow soldiers because of my christian faith and not offered mental health after the event.  I never received the mental health services during the military at all and was constantly told that I was a “weak piece of shit” and that I needed to “man the fuck up”.  I became isolated, severely depressed and suicidal. I ended up deeply suppressing that trauma to get through it. And since I never got help from the military or mental health services I needed, I learned to never trust them again.  Recently my service connected back injury along with a rare non alcoholic liver disease called PSC have derailed my career and life. This has pushed me to new lows, and pushed me back into depending on my abuser, the military, for help.  And yet they are not providing me with the necessary resources to survive. There has been so many instances of negligence that has resulted in harm to me.

Stanford is very successfully testing an antibiotic to treat PSC because they have identified it to be caused by a microbe.  It would cost the VA $10/month to give to me, but it costs me $1800/month for me buy on my own (I cannot afford). Even though the ethics officer weighed in on my behalf, I was denied because it was experimental and does not follow current policies.  Where is the humanity? My liver may die and they are doing nothing to help me, in fact often being prescribed meds that hurt my liver. I would need a living donor transplant, but the military does not offer that service, or so I’m told. I am also not getting the PTSD Mental Health services I need after many repeated attempts and even calling the crisis line.  In order to get disability coverage I was forced to a non-treatment appointment where I had to talk about my trauma to some random person without having any support. It proves they care more about protecting their money then they do about me getting the trauma help I need.

Part 2 - Bankrupted and about to be homeless from my service connected disability.

I also have not been able to work consistently for most of the last 2 years because of my degenerative back disease caused by the military.  I have been bankrupted, lost friends, my house and I’m about to be homeless. I have had to sell most of my possessions to try and survive. The homeless shelters are military style concrete brick dorms with inspections and forcing me to leave from 9-2 to “look for work.”  This triggers my PTSD and does not allow me to heal from my back trauma. I fought for the homes of all Americans...who is going to help me fight for mine?

I have asked for an increase in my Disability but there is such a backlog that I am not getting it in a timely manner.  I am on the phone daily to try to get help which is just triggering my trauma from being abused by the military. I was supposed to get 100% temporary disability when I was unable to work for my back, but I have yet to receive it.  I am also told that I cannot get back pay past 1 year even though I asked for help at the time of my trauma but I never received it. They just made me move companies. Many services are hidden from veterans who do not know the law and how to protect themselves.  I have been denied necessary resources since day 1 of the military (took congressional investigations to get the rank I deserved when I signed up). Should I be penalized for the continued negligence on the part of the military?

Part 3

Because I can’t work from my service connected disability and serious employment handicap, I qualify for Vocational Retraining through the VA. I just recently went to my Initial Evaluation to receive Chap 31 Vocational Rehabilitation so that I can get retrained and have a meaningful career and active part in my community here in Boulder, CO.  My aptitudes, abilities and interests along with my work experience qualify me for becoming a professor in social entrepreneurship. I can start retraining Sept 4th at Walden University to get a DBA in Social Entrepreneurship and then apply for jobs. I am excited that this career will allow me to be a productive member of the community and advance the idea of social entrepreneurship as a great way to create a better world.  I was told that I had to prove ROI to the taxpayers. So I showed how startups have consistently been the major jobs creator. Social entrepreneurship is a great way for America to be able to prioritize growth and social value to the benefit all Americans. I am told they only help they can offer this severely disabled vet is resume help.

The Colorado Vocational Rehabilitation program has been and continues to be fraught with management issues, lies and deception (see links).  I am being lied to as to what services I qualify for, misdirected and tricked to try to get me to sign away my rights to the program and am currently being pigeon holed and ignored in hopes I will go away.  I have lived a life of service in the military, nursing and in my church. I want to be an active member of my community, and I’m asking for a hand up not a hand out. Is there anyone that will help me with a hand up? &

Nicholas DeMuth, RN, Vet