Congress acts to stop DoD from saving dimes by trashing vets

Summary:  More about an out-of-control and despicably abuse practice of DoD.  As pressure grows to cut costs, expect DoD to short-change vets — and protect defense contractors.

“Mkae admin exits harder”, Marine Corps Times, 12 July 2010:

When former sailor Kevin Stein developed a muscle tic disorder, his doctors expected he would be found medically unfit for service and become eligible for disability retirement benefits. Instead, the Navy ruled him medically fit but “unsuitable” for ship duty or deployment. So after 14 years in uniform, Stein was unceremoniously administrative­ly discharged — with no medical benefits.

This “fit but unfit” finding is common; one lawyer who works with service members says he hears about one or two such cases a week. But it is not the only way that critics say the military has tried to deny disability benefits to wounded, injured and ill service members.  Others include dismissing troops suffering from mental health disor­ders for a “pattern of misconduct,” or denying benefits by ruling that health problems were “pre-exist­ing,” even without clear evidence to support that conclusion.

Defense officials deny that bud­getary considerations drive such conclusions, but it bears noting that even as the number of post-9/11 wounded troops has bal­looned to 40,000, spending on dis­ability retirement benefits has remained flat since 2002 at $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion a year.

The Senate version of the 2011 defense authorization bill address­es this issue with a provision that would prohibit the military from administratively discharging troops with medical conditions.  The House version seeks only a study, but still calls the practice “fundamentally unfair.” When House and Senate confer­ees meet to reconcile the two bills, the Senate position should pre­vail.

Lawmakers must ensure the military disability system works for — and not against — wound­ed, injured and ill troops.

Other posts about an army near the breaking point

  1. The Army is losing good people. That is only a symptom of a more serious problem., 18 January 2008
  2. News: “U.S. Army Isn’t Broken After All, Military Experts Say”, 20 March 2008
  3. An effective way to support our Troops: help the Blue Star Mothers of America, 8 June 2008
  4. Time: “America’s Medicated Army”, 12 June 2008
  5. “VA testing drugs on war veterans” – The Washington Times and ABC News, 18 June 2008
  6. Support the USO – more effective than a bumper sticker, 5 July 2008 — Another way to support our troops, more effective than a bumper sticker.
  7. Is post-traumatic stress disorder more common now than in past wars?, 17 July 2008
  8. “VA testing drugs on war veterans” – The Washington Times and ABC News, 18 June 2008
  9. Is post-traumatic stress disorder more common now than in past wars?, 17 July 2008
  10. Suicides skyrocket among US soldiers, 26 March 2009
  11. Another important story about our army nearing the breaking point, 28 July 2009
  12. “For many soldiers, mental trauma lingers at home”, 13 June 2010
  13. The wounded warrior debate – how to treat casualties of our wars, 19 June 2010

For more about this see the FM reference page An Army near the Breaking Point – studies & reports.

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