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Sec State Hilly unconstitutional?

Definition of Combat Wounds (Benefits) Is Hurting our Veterans

Subtitle: Insane Policy Due to Definition Creep or Bureaucracy?

Injured veterans engaged in new combat
In a little-noticed regulation change, the Pentagon's definition of combat-related disabilities is narrowed, costing some wounded veterans thousands of dollars in lost benefits.
By David Zucchino
November 25, 2008

Marine Cpl. James Dixon was wounded twice in Iraq -- by a roadside bomb and a land mine. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, a concussion, a dislocated hip and hearing loss. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Army Sgt. Lori Meshell shattered a hip and crushed her back and knees while diving for cover during a mortar attack in Iraq. She has undergone a hip replacement and knee reconstruction and needs at least three more surgeries.

In each case, the Pentagon ruled that their disabilities were not combat-related.

In a little-noticed regulation change in March, the military's definition of combat-related disabilities was narrowed, costing some injured veterans thousands of dollars in lost benefits -- and triggering outrage from veterans' advocacy groups...

Go here to read the whole Zucchino article on this travesty that could, and very well will, affect thousands and thousands of veterans.

Most of us know that the myriad of rules and regulations around benefits are legion.  So, I need your help.  It appears to me that the Congress enacted a law with no definitions, and the DoD, which puts a definition on everything, sought to do just that.  The result was a bureaucracy that took those definitions verbatim to define the level of benefits for soldiers like Meshell that was injured during a mortar attack but not hit by shrapnel.

The Disabled American Veterans claim that the Pentagon illegally stripped definitions out of the legislation in order to reduce the costs of caring for the many diabled vets we have from OIF and OEF.

Regardless of whether this problem stems from Congress or from the Petagon, it needs to get fixed.  And it needs to get fixed ASAP.  With Congress doing not much of anything over the next few weeks, let's get this on their radar for the next session.

Please start contacting the House Armed Services Committee (Ike Skelton is the chairman), then the Senate Armed Services Committee (Carl Levin is the Chairman), then your Congressman.

Update:  Got this note from someone in the know (that works on these issues) and that I trust completely.

The real answer is that Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel, David Chu, hates EVERYTHING to do with military health care, and the costs.  So he essentially tries to screw us at every opportunity.  He’s been trying to do away with all of it for a while now.   So he continually throws up little roadblocks like this one.  It has to do with the CRSC payments.  (Combat Related Special Compensation.)

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