Former airman Aimee Sherrod stopped going to the therapy sessions, even though she couldn’t get visions of exploding mortars out of her head.
Military officials told her in one breath that she couldn’t do her job because she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, but in the next breath said she was fine.
Sherrod received a 10 percent disability rating from the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2005, after the service medically discharged her. The senior airman had completed deployments to Pakistan, Jordan and Iraq in her four-year career. She left without even a military ID.
Even worse, she left questioning if there was anything wrong with her at all.
“I stopped going to sessions with the therapist because I figured since I got such a low rating that maybe nothing was wrong with me,” said Sherrod, 31, who spent most of her service inspecting aircraft, mostly rescue helicopters.
During her deployment to Camp Sather, Iraq, the enemy launched a mortar barrage on her portion of the flightline. She watched medics evacuate two airmen in her unit. At home, she still hears the whistles. The anxiety causes her to grind her teeth at night –so much that she broke a tooth.
Three years after her discharge, the Defense Department issued a memo mandating that service members diagnosed with PTSD receive a 50 percent rating when they retire. A 50 percent rating guarantees lifetime TRICARE medical coverage and tax-free retirement payments.
While the ruling has helped hundreds of veterans over the past four years, more than 4,000 veterans like Sherrod, who left the service between 2003 and 2008, didn’t have their records amended by the military corrections board.