Maj Dennis Skelton – VA Refuses to Pay for Feeding Tube Liquid They Recommended

 In Military

Army Major Dennis Skelton (“DJ”) has the moniker, “the most wounded commander in American history.” The name stuck with him after he was gravely wounded in Fallujah in 2004. He wrote an open letter the other day to the VA which was published on Foreign Policy on Nov 27, to take them to task for failing to pay for the liquid for his feeding tube. It was the same liquid they recommended he use.

Here is his open letter to the VA. Note: at least he has a sense of humor in spite of the rotten deal he has endured.

“Dear VA,

On Saturday you had me go to the emergency room at my local hospital to place a feeding tube in my stomach because, with my shot-up palate deteriorating, it is getting dangerous again for me to eat or drink through the mouth.

I hear nothing afterwards about when you might be shipping cans of Ensure, Jevity or something etc. to my house so I can have something to eat through said tube. But it is the same system as last time and the same process as we discussed right before going into surgery. Except this time you have decided that there is a better brand of feeding tube liquid than Jevity (from last time) and you persuaded me to switch to Diabetisource brand.

So today, six days post-surgery, I received a letter from you informing me that the brand you recommended to me, Diabetisource, is actually not covered by the VA and I need to go find and pay for my own feeding tube liquid on my own.

So when the Secretary of the VA’s front office called me last week to inquire if any of my current problems were in any way the fault of the VA — the answer is YES!

I am fully aware of the fact that one can survive for two weeks without food, but come on! (Btw, thanks to Price Floyd for letting me use your turkey baster when I was in D.C. this week.)

I see this as a teaching moment for both the VA and my friends. But please, we don’t need to use my case to shed light on everything that is wrong with the system. Just throw one or two problems at me at a time, OK? Thank you.

Ironically I’m writing this on a train as I travel to West Point to help write a chapter on “resilience” for their new Psychology textbook. And now I’m giggling, which is extremely painful since I have a fresh hole in my stomach.”

Major Skelton refused to allow his life to be defined by the term “wounded warrior.” And even though that moniker seems to follow him around, he has exceeded the so-called ‘limitations’ of his status.

November 6, 2004, Fallujah

“I was hit in that firefight … I happened to be standing beside a cement pylon and the next thing I knew, it was pitch dark. I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t feel anything. I felt like I was floating through space. One of the last things I remember was hearing one of my Soldiers say, ‘I think the lieutenant’s dead.’ At that time, a switch flipped, and I began to feel the most intense pain of my life…

My left arm was destroyed. My hand was intact, but everything from the wrist to the elbow was destroyed. The head of the RPG broke and went through my right leg. My ammunition belt got hot and began cooking off. Those rounds, along with various enemy AK-47 rounds, went through my right arm and left shoulder.” Skelton in anAmerican Military News article


Ultimately, Skelton lost his left eye and now has a glass one (that actually popped out once while he was in a helicopter over Fallujah), so when he wears sunglasses, his injuries are not noticeable.  He had to learn how to walk, eat, talk, and write again- which makes the VA decision all the more ridiculous.

But none of that stopped him. After 6 years of surgeries and the recovery, he returned to Active Duty, and is now going through the Naval Postgraduate school pursuing a Masters degree in International Relations. He speaks fluent Chinese as well and has a list of accompishments that rivals many. He is married and has a son.

Some of his other accomplishments and amazing recovery are in this video:



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