It took almost four years, but Sgt. 1st Class Cameron Corder is finally getting his money.
Corder, whose story of financial problems resulting from the Army’s bureaucratic mistakes was profiled in Military Times last spring, won a victory late last month before the Army Board for Correction of Military Records to have his medical records updated and to receive $100,000 through the Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, or TSGLI, program.
He called the reversal a momentous decision for his family.
“It’s going to really help us dig out of the financial hole we’ve been in since I was injured in Afghanistan in 2013,” he said. “The Army kept refusing to pay the benefit.”
Corder suffered serious back injuries while trying to treat a wounded, flailing Marine during his deployment as a medic in Afghanistan. He was medically evacuated to Germany and underwent numerous surgeries, all covered as service-connected injuries.
But Army officials have for years refused to pay out the injury insurance policy because of paperwork mistakes in Corder’s case. Medical officials recorded his wounds but not the specifics of when they occurred, leaving the soldier technically ineligible for the additional $100,000.
After multiple appeals with Army officials, Corder’s family turned to their local congressman, Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., for help. Corder said he’s thankful the congressional intervention finally changed the decision, but Kildee said he remains frustrated that the problem wasn’t resolved years earlier.
“It’s good news that his family was taken care of, but no servicemember should have to go through what he did,” Kildee said. “The sad reality is that the U.S. military has proven itself as bureaucratic as a private insurance company. They should be looking out for these soldiers.”
As a result of the case, Kildee has introduced legislation that would require more transparency on TSGLI decisions, especially in cases of denials. He said the resolution of Corder’s case has strengthened his belief that the program needs reforms.
He also hopes other troops learn from Corder’s saga.
“Most people who would have suffered that initial problem would have assumed they just didn’t qualify (for the benefit), and trust in the Army to do what’s right,” Kildee said. “Not everyone knows they don’t have to take no for an answer. But what this case says is that they should never give up.”
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.