Richmond woman goes unexplainably blind, discharged by Army

Posted at 7:58 PM, Jul 23, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-23 19:58:39-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)—A young woman started training for a military career, something she had always dreamed of, and then she went blind.

Twenty-three year old Jasmin Bailey started planning for her career in the army back in middle school.

The Richmond native chose Franklin Military Academy for high school and then joined ROTC her first day of college. Her sights were set on being a paratrooper.

“To go in to the military, to serve my country, to be part of something bigger than I was,” said Bailey.

In the summer before her senior year in college Bailey went to a 30 day military training in Washington state. About half way through the program her eyesight began to fail. She lost almost all ability to focus.

At first medics thought it could be allergies but two weeks later it had gotten much worse.

“They sent me to the Army hospital and that’s when I found out it could be permanent,” said Bailey.

Then just two weeks before her college graduation, Bailey would get more bad news. The Army would not accept her.

“I was told I was going to lose my commission and I was medically discharged,” said Bailey, “It just came out of nowhere, I was blind-sided by it.” 

Bailey applied for workman’s compensation but was denied because there wasn’t proof the training affected her eyesight. She’s been to a dozen doctors, but still no answers as to why her vision continues to disappear.

“There isn’t a day that I don’t notice it’s getting worse,” said Bailey.

At age 23 Bailey is now legally blind. She has only limited vision in one eye.

She lives with her grandmother and walks to work as a barista at a nearby coffee shop. She said it’s hard to do much else because her vision makes it almost impossible to read. She struggles to have any vision for her future when she still doesn’t understand her own condition.

“I just don’t know what to do anymore, I’m desperately trying to find an answer,” said Bailey.

Bailey plans to appeal the workman’s comp decision. She does not have healthcare coverage at the current time but is looking forward to her one year anniversary at her job in September when she becomes eligible.