Copperas Cove man turned away from Army due to eye disease

Channel 6 news reporter Emani Payne reports.

COPPERAS COVE - A Copperas Cove man who dreamed of joining the military said he was turned away due to a rare eye disease he did not know he carried.

Jacobo Gaitan said learning he carried an eye disease was a shock. However, he is not going to let his condition deter him from accomplishing his life-long goal. 

Gaitan was raised in a military family and wanted to follow in his father's footsteps. He wanted to serve. Gaitan's father spent over twp decades in the military.

"It's my chosen career path," Gaitan said. "It just seems so interesting you know being in the military, being from a military town. I have been a military brat my whole life. So, I just think it's something that I would love to do."

When Gaitan tried to enlist, however, he was turned away for his diagnosis of a rare eye disease called Keratoconus. Affects of the eye condition can lead to blindness.

"They told me that I had spots in my eyes and discoloration in my eyes and that I'd need to come back for another review," Gaitan said.

Disappointed, but not discouraged, Gaitan found a doctor in California who could save his eyes with a specialized surgery. The surgery cost $7,000. 

Thanks to community donations, Gaitan successfully received the surgery earlier this month and is currently recovering.

Marcey Gaitan, Jacobo Gaitan's mother, called the surgery a miracle. 

"When you're young, you think 'gosh I have my whole life ahead of me. I have even gotten into my choice of career yet and then you're thinking about losing your eye sight that's a scary thing," Marcey Gaitan said. "So the fact that we have that halted and are going to go back to MEPS in six months... we'll see what happens."

Gaitan has been in constant contact with his recruiter, and said he'll be able to try and re-enlist again in six months. 

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with outstanding expenses.

© 2018 KCEN-TV


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