Robert Trafter underwent two battles with cancer — and beat it, twice. But he still had to beat the VA.
Mr. Trafter served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1972 to 1975. He was stationed at Camp Lejeune. Years later, he developed cancer. He underwent treatment and surgery and finally got an all-clear.
But after some time, the nightmare started over. He believed it might have come back. he had felt a lump under his arm. So he went to VA Medical Center and asked them to check it. The Medical Center waited nearly a year, possibly more, before examining him. By that time, the lump had become a painful, swollen lump. The cancer had come back.
Mr. Trafter went through the cancer treatment again. And he came out on top, again. But the VA’s delay in the diagnosis continued to haunt him.
Mr. Trafter filed a claim for Section 1151 benefits due the VA’s medical negligence in failing to diagnose his cancer for over a year.
The VA denied him and refused to provide him a medical opinion. After the Board of Veterans’ Appeals rejected him too, he came to my office.
We filed an appeal arguing that veterans with negligence claims against the VA should also be provided a medical opinion, just like veterans with traditional compensation claims. The case went to oral argument earlier this year. You can hear the argument here.
We won. The Veterans Court decided in our favor. Its decision can be read here.
Now all veterans with Section 1151 claims will have as much right to VA-provided medical opinion as everyone else.
Mr. Trafter’s proud that his case could help other veterans. Currently, he’s doing OK. He is receiving compensation for his cancer due his exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune. And he plans to keep pursuing his Section 1151 claims.
Here’s to hoping he wins them.