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San Bernardino Survivors Denied Workers’ Comp

Survivors of the devastating San Bernardino Islamic terror attack one year ago say they are being denied workers’ compensation for treatment since the violent mass murder and maiming that occurred during a San Bernardino County Health Department function.

Workers injured in the attack on the county training holiday luncheon that killed 14 and physically injured 22 more are speaking out about the county workers’ compensation program barriers to their recovery.

Fifty-nine-year-old Valerie Kallis-Weber told KPCC’s Rebecca Plevin that she still faces serious physical limitations from the shots she took to her pelvis and arm. Weber’s pelvis was shattered and her arm is paralyzed from the elbow down, and by the end of the month she faces losing the home health worker who for 12 hours a day aids her to accomplish basic tasks from bathing to putting on her shoes.

Weber told the public radio station that a utilization review claims administrator concluded that she won’t need home care come month’s end. She added that it’s her doctor who said she needs the help of the part-time caretaker.

San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert claimed to KPCC that the county has done its best for the survivors, but could have done more.

Victims took their grievances and made their pleas for help directly to the County Board of Supervisors earlier this week at a public meeting. It was their action that spurred a promise from the county to hire an outside firm within the month for the purpose of handling survivors’ claims.

Wert assured the outlet that the county will hire an outside contractor this month to handle the special circumstance. This contractor would review survivor’s treatment requests and communicate with doctors.

One victim by the name of Sally told CNN in an interview aired on Friday that the primary trauma was the attack, but she and others have faced a second, possibly worse, secondary trauma — the fight against their employer.

Victims of the 2009 attack at the Fort Hood military base where Nadal Hassan killed 13 and injured 32 faced barriers to compensation for their injuries as well. CNN reported in August 2013 on what the government deemed “workplace violence.” Following the Fort Hood attack. President Barack Obama himself said, “As commander-in-chief, there’s no greater honor but also no greater responsibility for me than to make sure that the extraordinary men and women in uniform are properly cared for.”

Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning took six bullets in the attack and wrote in a 2013 article for the Washington Post that he had faced serious financial losses and had “watched other victims and their families be denied disability benefits and treated indifferently by the Army. This has left many families suffering not just physical and emotional wounds, but financial ones as well.”

Eighty-three survivors and families of those killed in the Fort Hood attack sued over what they called inferior treatment, according to CNN.

San Bernardino terror victim Weber told KPCC that the injuries she sustained from the December 2, 2015 attack were so severe that she spent three months in the hospital following the attack and in just the first month went through 20 surgeries and five blood transfusions. She now hopes for a new caseworker after losing her first one. She said that since then she had been expending her energy on advocating for herself — energy she said she should be using to recuperate.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 

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