Robert Bailey was a coal miner for 36 years. He began in McDowell County and after it became too hard to breathe, he retired from a mine owned by Patriot Coal in Boone County.
“Mostly because of my health and my breathing," Bailey explained between oxygen puffs. "My black lung condition. I got where I felt like I couldn’t perform the way that I felt like I needed to."
In 2009 Bailey filed for disability and black lung benefits. After a few years of evaluations, and paperwork, the U.S. Department Of Labor determined that he deserved a monthly payment and medical care, which is a feat in itself. All the while, Bailey was struggling just to breathe.