What began as a treatable birth defect turned into a dislocated neck and a stroke. Retired Sgt. 1st Class Barbara Ospina is paralyzed, in debilitating pain and confined to a wheelchair for most of the day. According to Ospina, it was a result of malpractice performed by military doctors. The Feres Doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court decision, prevents her from suing the Defense Department for service-connected illness or injury and now she is fighting the VA for benefits, benefits so far denied.
The VA’s claim is that the injury was not due to an injury but a medical condition or illness, however, it was the injuries suffered during surgery to rectify the medical condition that has left Ospina in need of a caregiver to help her bathe, dress and prepare meals. Osina is currently paying out of pocket to be cared for as she battles for benefits.
If Ospina had been operated on in a civilian hospital, she would have been able to sue her medical providers for the alleged negligence. Since The Feres Doctrine’s inception, many service members have suffered illness, injury and death without being able to hold providers accountable.