Injured Soldiers Denied Disability Pay

Capitol Hill Blue is reporting that nearly a third of the National Guard soldiers and Army reservists injured in Iraq are being denied disability, and at least one soldier says Army physicians falsified his medical records to do it.

Jesus Oliveras, a chief warrant officer in an Augusta, Ga., reserve unit, was among those ordered back to duty without compensation.Oliveras said doctors wrote on his records that he had a hearing loss. He contends they gave little recognition to his real problems: debilitating back and shoulder injuries. Despite those injuries, the maintenance technician volunteered for service in Iraq.

“At times I felt lousy, as a second-class citizen, especially coming from a war zone,” Oliveras said. “They sent us to fight an enemy and when we returned, we had to fight another enemy – us.”

Less than 10% of the injured reservists who apply for disability get it, a lower ratio by far than any of the other ‘regular’ military services.

Lavoda Anderson of Ninety-Six, S.C., said she suffered a life-altering injury to her back while under fire in Iraq last year. In constant pain, she was jolted anew when the Army calculated her compensation for medical retirement at $13,400.”I feel I was treated very unfairly,” said Anderson, who did not return to her prewar job as a dialysis technician and is raising her 4-year-old daughter. “I didn’t get adequate care. I feel like I’m useless most of the time.”

Brower, the lawyer for the Army disability agency, said, “You can’t give higher disability ratings to soldiers who you feel emotionally deserve it. It would be nice to give every soldier 100 percent (disability), but as a taxpayer, you might not like that.”

As a taxpayer, we’re going to end up paying $$$500Bil$$$ for this war, but we wouldn’t support using some of that to support shanghaied soldiers injured in our behalf as opposed to, say, Halliburton’s outrageous overcharging for its minimal and shoddy work in Iraq? Bullshit.

Spc. John Ramsey, a deputy sheriff in Orange County, Fla., had medical bills in the thousands of dollars and was dogged by creditors. Meanwhile, the state and federal governments fought over responsibility for his shoulder injuries suffered in Iraq.”My wife and I and two kids were put through hell because of this,” Ramsey said.

Sgt. John Beard of Jacksonville, Fla., who returned from Iraq with shrapnel wounds in his back, legs and face, said he painfully waited in long lines for processing. On one occasion, confronting an irritable soldier handling pay records, Beard said, “I snatched my orders out of his hands and left.”

Staff Sgt. Dwayne Fitzpatrick of Orlando, Fla., won his appeal of an initial offer of a one-time, $23,000 severance payment. He qualified instead for a disability payment of $1,300 a month.

“They dangle some money in your face, so many soldiers will take it and run,” he said. “They low-ball everybody. I’m looking at the long term.”

We’re ‘low-balling’ troops injured in our war and high-balling war profiteers? What’s wrong with this picture?

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