Many of you will already have seen the news that insurance company Abacus is putting the claim of 20 year old Private Dave Tatlock under review after seeing footage of him carrying out the Carling Cup at Wembley.
Private Tatlock of 2 Para was left temporarily paralysed after being hit by 'friendly fire' in Afghanistan in July 2008. Like many soldiers Pte Tatlock was paying £56 a month to Abacus who specialise in providing insurance to the armed forces. He was expecting a £25,000 payout for the loss of use of his left foot until Abacus contacted the military rehabilitation center Headley Court to say they would be reviewing his compensation.
Doctors had originally told Private Tatlock he was unlikely to be able to walk again, but he is now able to move with the aid of a stick. "My calves don't work, my hips don't work properly, my glutes (buttock muscles) don't work properly-waist down is just messed up basically"
It seems that Abacus wanted to review the compensation after seeing Pte Tatlock walk a few steps onto the pitch unaided, even though an assistant carrying his crutch could clearly be seen next to him and the effort of those steps etched allover his face.
Bureaucrats face mountains of paperwork to climb, but rarely anything more challenging in their day to day work, so perhaps they can be forgiven for not understanding the kind of mountains most disabled people have to climb every day. Or perhaps I'm just being nice to faceless organisations who don't deserve any such kindness. It's not just Abacus who behave in such an underhanded way when refusing insurance claims, all insurance companies do that, even the one we in Britain think is supposed to protect us if we become sick or disabled-the department of work and pensions. Whilst many members of the public will be shocked at the way Abacus are treating Pte Tatlock, no disabled person who's had to claim benefits will be.
To rehabilitate as successfully as Pte Tatlock has from such severe injuries takes something no policy or claim form could ever record. Something which escapes definition but is the vital ingredient in any kind of rehabilitation. Some sort of personal characteristic which most of our injured soldiers share and bureaucrats don't.
I can't explain to you how Pte Tatlock managed to walk those few steps unaided any better than I can explain how I manage to take mine. I can tell you it has little to do with physical weakness and everything to do with mental strength, that it requires a persistence bordering on derangement and stubbornness any mule would envy. None of which are rateable in a tick box form designed by people who wouldn't know a mountain if it stared them in the face.