By Richard Rhinehart
Martinsburg, West Virginia, June 12, 2013 – Glenn Goulet is a patient man. Medically retired from the Army following seven and a half years of service, the retired sergeant spends his time volunteering for the non-profit Apollo Civic Theatre in Martinsburg, participating in outdoor sporting events such as World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Sea to Shining Sea and Face of America bicycle rides, and meeting with and advising injured veterans returning home after their service.
“I think by acknowledging new veterans can inspire them and hopefully get them to compete in future events,” says the 51-year-old veteran, called “Cowboy Glenn” by his friends owing to his ever-present cowboy hat.
Considered medically disabled with a 100 percent disability, Goulet is also waiting. Although he has had five back surgeries, 15 skin cancer operations, shrapnel scars and is losing his eyesight, he is waiting for full compensation from the Veterans Administration for his claim.
“I did not know that I was able to file a claim after being medically discharged from the Army,” Goulet explains. “This is the main reason why I tell all returning soldiers to file a claim immediately, so they don’t experience delays like mine.”
Waiting years for a decision regarding his claim, Goulet notes that in 2008, the claim was “remanded back to my state headquarters for a decision.”
Living on less than $800 per month in partial compensation, Goulet finds that he has to be careful with his expenses. With constant healthcare expenses, the 16-year West Virginia resident has to let some needs wait, such as a new computer to replace his older, failing unit. He spoke with a computer industry guest speaker at World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Sea to Shining Sea ride in 2012, who promised to help. “I told him that I felt like less of a man to have to ask him for assistance,” Gouldet says.
Though he has had Senators and Congressmen contact the VA on his behalf, Goulet reports that it hasn’t helped. “I have been advised that with the growing number of cases in the system, that there will be even longer delays.”
Meanwhile, Goulet waits and rides. “Riding has been a good stress relief for me, while helping me stay fit,” he said, prior to his two month 2012 cross-country bicycle ride with World T.E.A.M. Sports. The physical activity keeps Goulet active.
“I met another disabled veteran named Dan on one of my rides,” Goulet recalled. “Dan is older than me and has a prosthetic extension for his leg, so that he can ride upright. Dan like myself is older, having health difficulties, but fights to stay in the game. When I look at Dan struggling during a long distance ride, I get inspired; because he doesn’t give up.”
Goulet is not the only veteran waiting for a compensation decision; tens of thousands of other veterans are also waiting for a response from the VA. “I have many politicians listening to my story and I hope some changes will come from it,” Goulet says. “I have had many hearings and still nothing.”
“Without your contributions to World T.E.A.M. Sports, veterans like myself would never be able to participate in these events,” said Goulet. “These events provide veterans like myself a chance to continue our health needs by increasing our physical and mental health care. All donations and sponsors are greatly appreciated by all disabled veterans who participate in World T.E.A.M. Sports. I am honored to be a part of World T.E.A.M.‘s family and happy to know that our sponsors treat us like family, too.”
Richard Rhinehart serves as Director of Communications for World T.E.A.M. Sports.