‘Get out of the office’: Veteran and family urge VA to do more to help nonverbal vets

INVERNESS, Fla. (WFLA) — Mike Duplisea claimed 11 medical issues related to his service in the Army, including combat during the Gulf War and exposure to toxic burn pits.

After a stroke left him in a wheelchair and limited his verbal communication skills, he applied for a disability permit from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in October 2021. 8 on Your Side learned that the VA had denied all 11 applications “in accordance with applicable laws.”

“No,” Duplisea said when asked if he’d been informed of the rejection.

A month after the Army veteran shared his story, the VA did a U-turn and granted him 100 percent disability based solely on his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) claim.

Duplisea was asked if he was surprised by the long-awaited approval.

“Yes,” he said.

He stated that he assumed the claim would never be approved.

It was at this point that the 52-year-old Inverness resident’s frustrations and emotions were being expressed.

He nodded his head to show that his tears were relief mixed with frustration at how long it had taken.

He held up three fingers and thought back to when the trial with his brother-in-law, Jason Bucy, began. Before the lawsuit was filed, Bucy helped him compile his service record due to Duplisea’s limited ability to share the details.

“You asked him how long it was taking and he put his finger up and showed you. It shows he has cognitive ability,” Bucy said. “His brain is still there. I can’t imagine feeling so frustrated, being stuck in my own body with no one to communicate with.”


Duplisea will be relocating soon and hopes to use its benefits to receive therapy to improve his quality of life.

Bucy and Duplisea said they were relieved the application was finally approved, but wished they had more exposure to other veterans who are not good at communicating.

“Without [8 On Your Side] and Congressman Gus Bilirakis, that’s not happening,” Bucy said. “We were ignored. We didn’t even know we were rejected.”

“Yes,” Duplisea said after being asked if more should be done to reach out to nonverbal veterans.

Bucy urged the VA and Veterans Service Organizations to go into their communities and check on all veterans.

“Get out of the office. Start kicking your feet. Start coming into those nursing homes,” Bucy said. “It would take you two hours to walk through a house, talk to the veterans and ask, ‘Do you need anything from us?’ “

Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: LauraCoffey@worldtimetodays.com.

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