FROM

Veteran injured in service fights for caregiver benefits

Alexis Courneen was hurt on Coast Guard duty and needs care from her husband. –David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

EASTON — Alexis Courneen was a 19-year-old only two weeks out of Coast Guard boot camp, serving on her first boat and embracing the challenges of military life like so many of her family before her, when her life inalterably changed.

She doesn’t recall the details of the accident that day in 1998, but she remembers raising her arm to protect her face an instant before a steel buoy struck her head. Nearly two decades later, she cannot read, has trouble seeing and hearing, and is plagued by fatigue and anxiety.

If the accident had occurred after Sept. 11, 2001, her husband, Jason, who has faithfully and patiently cared for Alexis since shortly after her debilitating injury, would have been eligible for an array of benefits available to the caregivers of veterans injured on active duty after the terrorist attacks.

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