Supporting the troops the army way

Soldiers risk ruin while awaiting benefit checks – NYTimes.com

Most permanently disabled veterans qualify for payments from Social Security and the military or Veterans Affairs. Those sums can amount to about two-thirds of their active-duty pay. But until those checks show up, most disabled veterans draw a reduced Army paycheck.

The amount depends on the soldier’s injuries, service time and other factors. But a typical veteran and his family who once lived on $3,400 a month might have to make do with $970 a month.

In a change in policy that took effect last August, the Army is allowing wounded soldiers to continue to draw their full Army paychecks for up to 90 days after discharge, Baker said. It is also sending more VA workers to Army posts to process claims more quickly, and trying to do a better job of informing soldiers of the available benefits and explaining the application process.

She acknowledged, however, that the changes have been slow to take hold across an Army stretched by war. ”It’s definitely a practice that is new. It takes awhile for new practices to be institutionalized,” the colonel said.

So let me understand this: the DoD in its wisdom decides that a soldier is too badly injured to remain in the service. Then, and only then, do they begin the process of deciding whether they’re badly-injured enough to receive disability payments. And while they’re doing that, if the former soldier disagrees with their assessment of disability, the soldier gets bupkis — not even the lesser amount — while the disagreement is being worked out. Oh, and if the soldier moves, say to a lower-cost area closer to family, or to somewhere closer to a VA hospital that can treat their disability, they get bupkis for another few months until someone has shuffled the paperwork around.

And the excuse for this is that the war has put strains on the Army. You mean strains like having tens of thousands of young men and women who have lost arms, legs, faces, brain function? Nah. Strains like having tens of thousands of additional files to pass around.

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