Fund established to help son of BLET member

Jonathan Miller has suffered for years after Marine Corps injury just after 9-11

One month after September 11, 2001, 20-year-old Jonathan Miller was in the United States Marine Corps.

The son of a BLET member, Jonathan was training to help defend his country. But in October of 2001, he stopped to help a fellow recruit pick up his gear. Little did he know that that simple act of kindness would have a profound impact on his health and could possibly lead to paralysis.

As Jonathan picked up the gear, he felt a sharp pain in his neck that shot all the way down to his lower back. At first, his military superiors simply told him to "drink more water." But as many BLET members know, a neck and back injury should never be taken lightly.

Jonathan progressed through the Corps in spite of the pain, but as his back injury became worse and worse, he was reassigned to a medical rehab platoon where he received medical, sports medicine and physical therapy treatment from the Navy.

But due to the severity of the injury and his lack of improvement, he was given an honorable discharge in September of 2002.

Upon discharge, Jonathan was instructed to seek medical treatment through the Veterans Administration (VA). What followed was nearly three full years of getting the run-around, misdiagnoses, and the deterioration of his health.

"I don't have to tell too many people the VA system is grossly mismanaged," said Brother James Kinsman, chairman of the BLET's Wisconsin State Legislative Board. He is friends with Jonathan Miller as well as his father, Tommy Miller, the BLET's Director of Organizing.

Jonathan has been unable to find a decent job because of his injury, and he does not qualify for his father's medical plan through the railroad. However, Brother Miller has used money from his own pocket to pay for his son to see civilian doctors and specialists in back and neck injuries.

Brother Kinsman has stepped in to create a fund for Jonathan to help with his mounting medical bills.

"Tommy Miller is a proud man who doesn't like asking for help," Brother Kinsman said. "He hates for this to happen, but a Brother shouldn't go bankrupt taking care of his kids."

His civilian doctors have confirmed at least one herniated disk in addition to the deterioration of other disks. The doctors are recommending immediate treatment, therapy and medication for Jonathan. However, the VA is balking at the diagnosis and has come up with its own treatment plan.

"The VA continues to ignore and neglect my case even after vast amounts of medical evidence have been presented," Jonathan Miller wrote. "They continue to ignore this even after a re-evaluation has been requested.

"One example of their negligence is mailing harmful psychotropic drugs to me such as Amitriptyline, which is used for the treatment of depression. I have never complained of such symptoms and I feel it is dangerous to treat my physical injuries with unrelated medications. I am not depressed, but I am in danger of paralysis."

Brother Kinsman is hoping BLET members, as well as our Teamster Brothers and Sisters, will support the Miller family as they seek proper treatment for Jonathan.

"The pain has long been unmanageable and my need is not to manage pain, so much as to immediately repair the injury," Jonathan said. "The VA has refused to fill prescriptions given by my civilian doctor. As a result, to obtain proper prescriptions when financial means are available, I have had to pay out of pocket, and suffer when I have not had the means to fill the prescriptions."

Brother Kinsman has established a fund for those willing to help Jonathan and the Miller family. Donations may be sent to:

Jonathan Miller Relief Fund
Northwest Georgia Bank
5063 Alabama Highway
Ringgold, GA 30736


© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen