Administration Avoids Fair Payment to Disabled Soldiers
The Bush administration doesn't like to quibble about amounts when it writes checks to military contractors. Taking care of soldiers injured in battle, on the other hand, brings out the administration's stinginess.
A soldier found to be 30 percent disabled receives a monthly military retirement check and family health care at military hospitals. A lower disability rating leads to severance from the Army, a taxable $12,000 benefit payment, and personal health care (with no family coverage) from the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. As the number of wounded soldiers has grown, lawyers report that it has become less likely that the soldiers will be assigned a 30 percent disability rating, even when they're incapable of working -- like Cpl. Richard Twohig, profiled in this story.
"I think the Army Physical Evaluation Board is broken," [civilian lawyer Mark] Waple said. "The DoD would rather buy another cruise missile than medically retire someone. Systemically, what we've seen in the last seven years, they just seem to give a zero, 10, 20 percent disability so they are no longer on the DoD payroll. It is almost like a fix is in somewhere."
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