Injured National Guard soldier from Vinita waiting on incapacitation pay

Thursday, January 13th 2005, 10:35 am
By: News On 6

An Oklahoma National Guardsman back from his second tour of duty overseas is happy to be home with his family, especially after being injured in Afghanistan. He's proud to have served, but now he's wondering why he's not getting paid.

The wounded soldier hasn't seen a check from the military since early October and he says no one will tell him why. News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin says after being away from home for two years, Staff Sgt. Clarence Faubion of Vinita had only a few months left to go when it happened.

The unit neighboring his came under fire. "And it was dark and I was running to my truck because we had five minutes to respond. I got my feet hung up on the sandbag and fell, when I hit my Captain was right behind me and he picked me up off the rocks." Faubion shook it off and completed his mission, by the time he'd returned to base; his knee was badly swollen. "They x-rayed it and said you just bruised it, then they sent me back."

He hobbled through the final four months of his tour on pain pills. Faubion says it wasn't until he returned home that a MRI caught what doctors there had missed. "The fracture was wide enough he could pay a number two pencil in it."

Faubion was told he'd be placed on incapacitation pay, but it took more than a month before he saw a check. "And I thought everything was going all right, then all of a sudden it stopped again." That left his wife Cindy as the sole breadwinner for the family of five. Already more than a month behind on their house payment, the family counts on a dual income to get by. Cindy Faubion: "Yes, I do work, I make money, but I don't make as much for all of us to pay everything."

Incapacitation pay is not automatic when a soldier is hurt. Military officials say if the injury clearly happened in the line of duty, the soldier is eligible for up to 180 days of incapacitation pay before further review. But if the circumstances call for a formal investigation to be sure the injury happened in the line of duty, the soldier is eligible for only 60 days of pay and that can be delayed for review in Washington DC.

But Faubion is confident that's not the case here. He says he's already seen his line of duty injury report. With no word on what's causing the hold up, the family can do nothing but wait. Faubion says the system has let him down. Cindy Faubion: "When you expect something to be there and nobody tells you." Clarence Faubion: "I had planned on already being back at work, not being laid up."

Military officials tell us they can't comment on Faubion's case, but say such delays do happen and they realize it can cause hardships.