Ailing Green Beret pushes Senate to give military equal rights

Local News

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As a Marine, Rich Stayskal risked his life fighting insurgents in Iraq.

As a Green Beret, little did he suspect botched calls by Army doctors would prove more lethal than the sniper’s bullet that once wounded him.

On two occasions, Army doctors failed to treat or alert Rich about a tumor in his lung.

Rich Stayskal fought in Iraq as a Marine

“This will likely be his last trip to Washington, D.C.,” Rep. Jackie Speier told members of the U.S. House this week. “That’s because this father, this husband, this Marine and Army Green Beret has end-stage lung cancer.”

A 70-year-old law known as the Feres Doctrine prohibits Rich and other active duty service members from suing military doctors for medical malpractice.

“Everybody else in the country can have that right but we can’t as military men and women and I don’t see how that’s possible,” Rich said.

Rep. Speier championed a bill in Rich’s name through the House to change that.

This week, Rich and his Tampa attorney Natalie Khawam lobbied senators and the White House to back the just-introduced Senate version of the bill.

“At a time when Rich should be able to spend his remaining days with those he loves, he has answered the call to fight,” Rep. Speier told House members.

Adding insult to injury, the Army is planning to medically discharge Rich just before his 20 years in the military.

“It’s kicking him out after causing injuries to him,” attorney Natalie Khawam stated. “We need to protect our soldiers and our military, these are our heroes and we need to do something about this and we need to do it now.”

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