This sailor's condition shattered her dreams of serving at sea

This sailor's condition shattered her dreams of serving at sea

By Kristin Davis

MOAA members will be participating in the association's annual Storming the Hill event April 18. One of the issues we'll bring to members of Congress is the fight for recognition for Chapter 61 retirees. This is part of a series in which those medically retired servicemembers discuss their experiences. 

Retired Petty Officer 2nd Class Kimberly Vasquez, USN, enlisted in 2006. She wanted to serve her country from a ship. Her career ended less than four years later.

Vasquez suffered from a condition called chronic exertional compartment syndrome, which first showed up during grueling training runs. 

“They did surgery to fix it and save my leg. The surgery was deemed a failure,” Vasquez says. 

Still, she received permission to deploy to Ali Air Base, Iraq. 

“After a month, we started getting fire,” Vasquez says. Enemy fire sent the intelligence analyst running for shelter. “Nobody in my unit was injured that day,” she recalls, but “they had to medevac me out. I was med-boarded almost immediately.”

Vasquez was given a 70-percent disability rating from the VA, and her retirement compensation pays for her VA disability compensation. “I can't walk long distances or play with my children,” Vasquez says. 

Despite her Chapter 61 status, Vasquez remains closely tied to the military. “My husband is active duty. I love my country. They need to hold up their end of the bargain,” she says.

MOAA supports ending the deduction of service-earned retirement pay to offset VA disability compensation for those servicemembers whose service-connected, non-combat related disability retirement under Chapter 61, 10 U.S.C. precluded them from serving at least 20 years. Click here to take action.