Monday, March 06, 2006

Service Connected Injuries

When military personnel are injured in the line of duty, they go through a medical board to determine if they are fit to be retained in the military. The medical board is done prior to discharge from a military hospital. If the injury is severe, the person will be discharged with a service-connected disability.

If you are discharge with a 10% rating, you are not eligible for monthly compensation, but a lump sum payment based on length of service and pay scale. If you are rated at more than 10% they can apply for monthly compensation.

With the War in Iraq and Afghanistan, there have been in excess of 12,000 injuries. Many of our forces have suffered terrible injuries, lost limbs, paralysis, blindness, burns shrapnel wounds and more, which will forever change their lives. They gave themselves for our Country.

Disability benefits are indexed by inflation on a yearly basis. The problem with this is very simple. A young person, such as our military personnel tend to be, have years ahead of them. Inflation adjusted benefits will only maintain that disabled veteran’s benefit with the buying power of the dollar in the year they were discharged. Inflation will not maintain their standard of living with that of the rest of society that they served and ultimately sacrificed themselves for. In simple terms, inflation adjusted benefits trap the disabled veteran with the same standard of living as when they were injured. It will not allow them to purchase goods and services that were not in their “basket of goods” when that year's Consumer Price Index was calculated.

After ten years, their standard of living will have fallen by 10% behind those they swore an oath to defend and protect and after 40 years it will have fallen by 31%. These are young men and women who made huge sacrifices. I believe we owe it to them to adjust service connected disability benefits not by inflation, but by the change in the US Average Wage. Making this change will provide better compensation over their life times than the current index used. We owe them much more. This is the least we can do.

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