Turkish veteran soldier faces repossession after failed payments for prosthetic leg
İZMİR - Doğan News Agency
Bülent Kocaoğlan was heavily wounded and lost his left leg during an attack by PKK in the southeastern province of Hakkari’s Çukurca in 1996. DHA PhotoA veteran soldier who lost a leg in a terrorist attack is now facing repossession of his property for failing to repay a loan he took out for a new prosthetic leg.
Bülent Kocaoğlan had been waiting on the social security body in the western province of İzmir for seven months to approve the payment for the new prosthesis in order to repay the bank.
Kocaoğlan was heavily wounded and lost his left leg during an attack by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the southeastern province of Hakkari’s Çukurca in 1996. Sixteen soldiers were killed and 21 others were wounded in the same attack.
He was treated at the Gülhane Military Medical Academy (GATA) and began using a prosthetic leg provided by the state. He decided to buy a new prosthesis after using the old one for 18 years following a new omnibus bill approved by the government allowing veterans “to use permanent prosthesis.”
However, the medical firm demanded advance payment for the prosthetic leg worth 135,000 Turkish Liras in order to avoid the risk of the state delaying payment, and Kocaoğlan took a 50,000-lira loan from a bank to pay the firm.
The bank had sent him notices as he failed to repay the loan, after the Social Security Institution (SGK) spent seven months examining documents before approving payment for the prosthesis.
Kocaoğlan prepared a video and shared it on social media expressing his desperation after his efforts to reach officials for help failed.
“They have given me this right. I benefit from it just like every veteran. I took the loan because I thought they would pay for it later. But I was wrong to count on the state. My family is about to break up. Who is responsible? If they said there would be no payment, I would never have taken the loan. This is unfair,” he said in the video.
The İzmir SGK office has released a statement, saying the delay for payments was because of the large number of applications that extended the process to examine all folders.
“There is an upper limit for medical devices and prothesis. Examinations are held in Ankara for applications that exceed the upper limit according to the new regulation, while the payments used to be done in regional offices,” the SGK office said.
“Inspectors in Ankara approve payments after determining whether there are applications that exceed the upper limit. The investigation is continuing for this case. When it is completed, we will make the payment,” it added.