Monday, March 26, 2007

Another way for the Army to screw you over!

Recall previous posts in which I have documented from Army Times reports how military disability ratings have decreased during a time of war, while soldiers being injured is exponentially higher.

The Nation has a story of a young soldier, wounded in Iraq, and was subsequently screwed over by the Department of Defense. Hat tip to deadissue!

But instead of sending Town to a medical board and discharging him because of his injuries, doctors at Fort Carson, Colorado, did something strange: They claimed Town's wounds were actually caused by a "personality disorder." Town was then booted from the Army and told that under a personality disorder discharge, he would never receive disability or medical benefits.

Town is not alone. A six-month investigation has uncovered multiple cases in which soldiers wounded in Iraq are suspiciously diagnosed as having a personality disorder, then prevented from collecting benefits. The conditions of their discharge have infuriated many in the military community, including the injured soldiers and their families, veterans' rights groups, even military officials required to process these dismissals.

It's simply taking the easy way out, the polar opposite of what military discipline teaches a soldier.

The Department of Defense or each service releases soldiers at ridiculous disability levels or with other sorts of discharges, forcing them to deal directly with an already overburdened Veterans Administration.
Exactly how much money is difficult to calculate. Defense Department records show that across the entire armed forces, more than 22,500 soldiers have been dismissed due to personality disorder in the last six years. How much those soldiers would have collected in disability pay would have been determined by a medical board, which evaluates just how disabled a veteran is. A completely disabled soldier receives about $44,000 a year. In a recent study on the cost of veterans' benefits for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Harvard professor Linda Bilmes estimates an average disability payout of $8,890 per year and a future life expectancy of forty years for soldiers returning from service.

Using those figures, by discharging soldiers under Chapter 5-13, the military could be saving upwards of $8 billion in disability pay. Add to that savings the cost of medical care over the soldiers' lifetimes. Bilmes estimates that each year the VA spends an average of $5,000 in medical care per veteran. Applying those numbers, by discharging 22,500 soldiers because of personality disorder, the military saves $4.5 billion in medical care over their lifetimes.
Don't look, don't find, don't pay...the new philosophy of military medicine.

Will Bachmann put that on her 08 lit piece?
The Army holds soldiers' medical records and contact information strictly
confidential. But The Nation was able to locate a half-dozen soldiers from bases
across the country who were diagnosed with personality disorder. All of them
rejected that diagnosis. Most said military doctors tried to force the diagnosis
upon them and turned a blind eye to symptoms of PTSD and physical injury.

If you are a soldier, do what I did before I got out...copy your medical records. All the anthrax shots and other vaccinations they gave us, plus your ability to prove what happened is hampered if you rely upon military records.

Anyone recall the fire in St Louis over a decade ago that resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of Gulf War Veterans medical records?

It will happen again.

Those that fight being mis-diagnosed by the DOD hospitals face a fight at the VA for their benefits and care.
Then in March 2005, eighteen months after Wooldridge's dismissal, his psychiatrist at the Memphis VA filed papers rejecting Brady's diagnosis and asserting that Wooldridge suffered from PTSD so severe, it made him "totally disabled." Weeks later the Army Discharge Review Board voided Wooldridge's 5-13 dismissal, but the eighteen months he'd spent lingering without benefits had already taken its toll.

"They put me out on the street to rot, and if I had left things like they were, there would have been no way I could have survived. I would have had to take myself out or had someone do it for me," he says. The way they use personality disorder to diagnose and discharge, he says, "it's like a mental rape. That's the only way I can describe it."

"I would have had to take myself out". Think about that statement for a minute...

Because of the strict bureaucratic structure, Veterans are contemplating and actually committing suicide.

Remember that more than 250,000 Vietnam Veterans have committed suicide after coming home from that war.

Failing to address these real issues and continuing to treat soldiers and Veterans as disposable people seems to be the standard operating procedure for this current administration.

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