After a month of duty in Iraq, 19-year-old James Crosby’s truck came under rocket attack and he was hit in the back by flying shrapnel, which pierced his intestines and spine. In critical condition with severe internal bleeding, James was rushed to a local base and evacuated to Germany before being sent back home to the U.S.
“When I woke up in the states, they told me I was paralyzed,” James said. But when he learned that a Marine was killed and three others were injured in the attack, James felt “like one of the lucky ones.”
A chance meeting leads to just the right assistance
During his rehabilitation in Boston, James met Joe Badzmierowski, a national service officer (NSO) from Paralyzed Veterans of America, and found the outlet that assisted him in his journey to his life with paralysis.
Joe assisted James with all the paperwork and procedures of the Department of Veterans Affairs. “He managed everything to make sure I received my entire medical and rehab benefits,” James said. “He knew what to do and how to do it, so I could concentrate on getting well enough to go home.”
After 14 surgeries James got that opportunity, but it wasn’t so simple. He had run into an unexpected financial crisis, like many injured service members face during recovery. In Iraq he had received hazardous duty benefits, but that ended when he was injured. His monthly salary dropped by nearly 50 percent.
He (NSO officer Joe Badzmierowski) managed everything to make sure I received my entire medical and rehab benefits. He knew what to do and how to do it, so I could concentrate on getting well enough to go home.
So James began advocating to have that policy changed and inspired his congressman to introduce legislation called the Crosby-Puller Combat Wounds Compensation Act, which would guarantee benefits for all veterans recovering from catastrophic injuries.
“You stop fighting in Iraq, but you’re still fighting for your life,” he said. “You need all the help you can get.
“I made it back and I was lucky to have help. I say, ‘Thanks Paralyzed Veterans, I could not have done it without you.’ ”