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Soldier may get mail job yet Postal Service sets up second medical test

The U.S. Postal Service has offered a decorated soldier from Hamburg another medical evaluation to determine if he can handle the job of mail carrier.

But National Guard Sgt. Jason R. Lyon, 28, remains skeptical.

"My worry is that they're going to send me to another doctor who just rubber-stamps what the Postal Service doctor has already told me," Lyon said Wednesday afternoon. "I really want this to be an independent evaluation."

Lyons, who was nearly killed last year by a roadside bomb in Iraq, has been battling with the Postal Service over what he considers an unfair medical evaluation by a Postal Service doctor.

While assigned to an Army combat unit in Baghdad, Lyon suffered a sprained ankle in July 2004 when he stepped off a Humvee. Six months later, he was severely injured by a roadside bomb; it killed three other soldiers in the same Humvee.

He received the Purple Heart and numerous other commendations.

Military doctors recently certified Lyon as physically fit to return to combat duty, if needed. But a Postal Service doctor has insisted that, because of his ankle injury, Lyon is unfit to work as a postal carrier.

Lyon maintains he can handle all the physical duties of a postal carrier.

Lyon said the ankle no longer bothers him. He has worked for United Parcel Service, on and off, for five years. Lyon said he recently quit that job after the Postal Service told him he would be hired as a mail carrier, pending a medical examination.

At the urging of Rep. Brian M. Higgins, D-Buffalo, the Postal Service agreed Wednesday to take another look at Lyon's case.

A letter sent to Lyon's home said he will be re-examined April 12 at the offices of First Choice Evaluations, a Buffalo firm that arranges independent medical opinions for employers, lawyers and insurance companies.

Officials at First Choice Evaluations said they could not discuss the situation.

Higgins said he was encouraged that the Postal Service is looking into the matter.

"At the least, after bravely serving our country, Jason deserves this courtesy," Higgins said. "I am confident that this second review will show that he is fully healed and will be able to serve as a mail carrier."

Lyon said he plans to obtain a new medical evaluation on his own at Sports Physical Therapy of New York, a Town of Tonawanda company that offered to do the evaluation for free.

"After all I've been through, I don't trust the Postal Service at this point," Lyon said.

He added that, if he feels he is treated unfairly in the weeks ahead, "I'm getting myself a lawyer."

Debra Hawkins, a Postal Service spokeswoman, said she can assure Lyon that the upcoming medical exam will be unbiased.

"[Lyon] should have no concerns about that," Hawkins said. "The doctor who will be doing this independent evaluation has no affiliation with the Postal Service. He's never worked with us before."

Postal Service officials noted that the service has a long history of hiring military veterans, who make up 28 percent of its Western New York work force.

The U.S. Labor Department also is trying to determine whether the Postal Service had treated Lyon fairly under hiring laws for military veterans.

e-mail: dherbeck@buffnews.com

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