Wichita Falls Veteran Struggles to Receive Benefits

All across the U.S. and abroad we thanked our veterans for their service. For some veterans when they come back home they face obstacles but they don't expect to face death. Newschannel 6 spoke with a veteran who said he was declared dead by the VA when in fact he was alive.

Robert Sorrell says it was a clerical error and one that has cost him tens of thousands of dollars of lost benefits. It happened eight years ago when he returned from combat in Afghanistan.

The pictures that Robert Sorrell have tell the story of his life. A soldier. A firefighter. A hero.
What the eye can't see in his war photos come to life when Robert is sleeping.

"You save a lot but it's the one that you don't save that come back at night when you're dreaming," said 38-year-old Veteran Robert Sorrell.

December of 1992 Robert was 18-years-old. He decided he wanted to fight for his country just like his uncles, grandfathers and dad did.

"Every male in my family has been in the military at some point or another," said Sorrell.

Robert joined the army and soon headed to Bosnia. He ended up deploying to Bosnia once more and then to Afghanistan. He served as a medic during his last tours, seeing everything, saving lives and witnessing lives lots. It was also in Afghanistan where he was injured.

"There was an IED explosion and a .50 cal. ammo can was bouncing around in the humvee
hit my jaw and broke my jaw."

Four surgeries later and he's still not done. But it was after his time serving in war fighting for our country that left him fighting once more, this time to receive something he rightfully deserved, his benefits.

"The VA told me that I was dead," he said. "I thought they were joking at first. But they said no in our computer you are marked as dead."

He was in Oklahoma at the time. He says he tried several times at the VA office to get his
benefits, but nothing.

"This guy deserves a parade," said Zach Farquhar, General Manager of Fuzzy's Taco Shop. "He comes home he fought for our country. I don't understand how we can leave somebody behind."

Robert says it wasn't until the summer of 2011 that the clerical error was fixed in Muskogee Oklahoma. It wasn't until he arrived in Texas that things changed again. As the weeks
and months progressed, his story would soon touch so many lives.

"A couple things about Texas since I've been here. They love their Mexican food, football and their veterans," said Robert.

"For him not to be taken care of just broke my heart," said Farquhar.

"I heard about it from my brother-in-law and once I heard we just had to get
involved," said Michelle Urioste.

Zach Farquhar, GM of Fuzzy's Tacos in Wichita Falls. Michelle Urioste is a derby girl. Both wanted to support him. They united together and held a fundraiser in July to help cover the medical bills for Robert's broken jaw.

"I didn't know this but they had gone around to the dorms [Sheppard] collecting money
and gave Robert a thermos and walked away," said Zach Farquhar.

"They filled it full of money and handed it to me, it kind of brought a tear
to my eye," said Robert Sorrell.

Zach from Fuzzy's made some phone calls and got in touch with Senator Cornyn's office to help him get his back pay. Robert is still in that process.

"It makes you sad. He needed that support and it wasn't there," said Molly Turner a Red River Derby Girl.

It's been a long and winding road for Robert. He's slowly getting his life together. He's seeing
a doctor for his jaw another for his PTSD and while he's still waiting on many things he's very thankful for what he already has.

Newschannel 6 spoke with the local veterans affairs office. The told us right now they are working to get Robert his benefits that he applied for here in Wichita Falls back in October of 2011.

Newschannel 6 tried getting ahold of the Department of Veteran's Affairs in Washington. We wanted to learn more about how he was declared dead and about the years of lots benefits. We have not heard back from them.

Robert says a dream of his is to start a foundation to help other veterans, like him, who may have gone through a similar situation.

Crystal Hall Newschannel 6.