Sunday, October 14, 2007

Paying the Price of War

Today's WaPo has a strong story on a couple in West Virginia, Michelle and Troy Turner. Troy returned from service in Iraq with PTSD. The story notes that more than 1/4 of our returning wounded vets have PTSD and brain trauma. How many of the "non" wounded are returning with undiagnosed PTSD is anyone's guess.

Michelle and Troy's tale of trying to make do with the aftermath of the war on Troy's mental state is heart-wrenching. Here's a bit of it:

The government's sweeping list of promises to make wounded Iraq war veterans whole, at least financially, has not reached this small house in the hills of rural West Virginia, where one vehicle has already been repossessed and the answering machine screens for bill collectors. The Turners have not been making it on an $860-a-month disability check from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

After revelations about the poor treatment of outpatient soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center earlier this year, President Bush appointed a commission to study the care of the nation's war-wounded. The panel returned with bold recommendations, including the creation of a national cadre of caseworkers and a complete overhaul of the military's disability system that compensates wounded soldiers.

But so far, little has been done to sort out the mess of bureaucracy or put more money in the hands of newly disabled soldiers who are fending off evictions and foreclosures. . . .

For 18 months Troy worked as a truck driver until his symptoms began to worsen. He imagined he saw Army vehicles on the interstate, causing him to shake and panic. His family needed the $2,600-a-month salary, so Troy kept driving and Michelle rode in the truck with him. Finally VA doctors increased Troy's medication, and he became too zonked to drive.

VA rated Troy's disability level at 50 percent, resulting in $860 a month in compensation. Like many wounded soldiers, he was clobbered by a fine-print government regulation known as "concurrent receipt," which prevents double compensation. That meant before he could receive his VA disability check, Troy had to pay back the $11,349 he received when he left the Army. For 13 months, VA withheld his check until the Army amount was reimbursed.

The fallout from this criminally inane war continues. The Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld collateral damage list is endless. And that particular axis of evil continues to stare out at us, wide eyed and impressed by the great work they have accomplished, unable to see past their own demented egos.


Blogger TomCat said...

Well said, LP. Bush has repeatedly lobbied to reduce Veterens' benefits.

BTW, congrats!

3:41 PM  

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