Army Reserve Spc. Michael Pyatt mounted a machine gun on the turret of his Humvee in August 2005 for another mission into the volatile city of Hillah, Iraq. As he stepped off the bumper, he landed awkwardly, injuring his hip and back and leaving him crippled.
Back home, he asked for a medical discharge.
In July 2007, his unit tried to deploy him a second time, even though he wore a knee brace and used a cane.
Just months later, the Department of Veterans Affairs declared Pyatt permanently and totally disabled. Yet today, more than five years after he was hurt, the Army still has not declared Pyatt unfit for duty, which would make him eligible for disability retirement pay and medical insurance for his wife and daughter.
Pyatt, 38, struggles to get by. He is deep in debt and must make frequent trips from his home in Bonne Terre, Mo., for free treatment at VA facilities in St. Louis.
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