Wounded veteran urges others wounded veterans to get an advocate

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A wounded veteran who struggled for almost a year to get proper medical care is finally getting the help he needs thanks to the non-profit, Combat Wounded Veterans of South Mississippi.  This veteran wants others in his situation to know the importance of getting an advocate to help.

Michael Kohut spent four years in the Navy before being medically retired in January 2013 for PTSD, as well as, traumatic brain and severe back injuries following 9 months in Afghanistan.

"I started noticing after I got out of the field in Afghanistan and I was actually diagnosed with PTSD in Kandahar by a captain in the Army before I even left. Because I was having sleep issues, panic attacks in the middle of the night," said Kohut.

When he returned home he says he struggled trying to get proper medical care.

"Two or three months ago I hit rock bottom financially. My mental status I just wanted to give up," Kohut said.

That is until he did what he urges other wounded veterans to do--get an advocate. Kohut says the Combat Wounded Veterans of South Mississippi helped him help himself financially and medically.

"Once we got Michael's story we were able to get his immediate needs taken care of then the needs of the healthcare came up. We are able to get his story and get the right people in place," said Kohut's case manager Roger Sibley.

According to Donna Anderson the founder of the nonprofit, she's seen several cases just like Michael's.

"We've seen it before. They have this gap when they come out of the active service. Then pending and waiting on their VA claims so they can go 18 months without getting any check from the VA which causes a lot of them to get into a financial crisis," said Anderson.

Michael's mother Paula Kohut says she's grateful for the help Michael's received.

"If it wasn't for them I really don't know what would be happening to my son right now or even if I would have him," Paula Kohut said.

Michael's message to others like him is to get help before it's too late.

"I just want to let them know that they need an advocate. You can't fight this process on your own," said Kohut.

In addition to getting an advocate, Anderson advises wounded veterans in need of help to know what's documented in your records.

If you're interested in volunteering or seeking help from the Combat Wounded Veterans of South Mississippi, you can learn more clicking here: http://cwvsm.org/ or calling 228-243-7272.

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