A Jacksonville veterans are claiming that he was denied benefits because of an illness he developed after taking a mandatory vaccine.
A local news team has investigated the claims and found that the federal government is refusing to compensate the veteran after one of their smallpox vaccines caused a series of debilitating side effects for the man.
Smallpox hasn’t been relevant since 1977, but, the military used post 9-11 “threats of smallpox” attacks by terrorists as a justification to begin inoculations for active military soldiers again.
The Department of Veterans Affairs says between 2002 and 2008, 1.7 million service members were vaccinated, including Jacksonville’s Sean Kelly.
“The whole time I’m thinking, ‘If you do something for your country, someone’s going to make sure you’re all right,'” Kelly said. “And that completely did not happen. It was like a slap in the face.”
“When I first started having symptoms from the smallpox vaccine, they told me it was heartburn,” Kelly said. “And it wasn’t one of those things where I’d say, ‘I don’t want to go out on patrol because I have heartburn.'”
Mark Bailey served at Kelly’s side. He said his symptoms also started during deployment.
“I got tightness in my chest, I chalked it up to heartburn and took my omeprazole and went on my way,” Bailey said.
Kelly was a machine gun section leader for the Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment. These guys are trained to be tough.