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Another Walter Reed horror story, from the Army Times

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This is a national disgrace. From the Army Times:

A pale scar creates a deep furrow connecting [Pvt. Robert Van Antwerp] Van Antwerp’s eyebrows. Doctors replaced bone with titanium after he fractured his skull. Bare-chested as he trimmed, Van Antwerp has a deep, laddered line from beneath his sternum to at least the top of his sweatpants. A blast ruptured his spleen and ripped out his colon. Pushing up his left pant leg as he told his battle story, Van Antwerp showed where three ligaments tore away from his knee, and then pointed out the scar from his broken tibia.

Above his heart, the ranks and last names of two dead friends are etched in ink. But he calls a friend to ask their first names. Short-term memory loss arrived for Van Antwerp in the same [suicide] attack that killed his buddies....

Yet when it was time for the Army to take care of him, one of its wounded warriors, Van Antwerp gave up before he even began. Rather than fight for a higher disability rating, he quietly signed for 20 percent — and no medical benefits — saying he knew he couldn’t do better. He inherited his father’s stubbornness, he said, and refused to ask anyone to pull strings based on his dad’s rank. Then his first medical board counselor, the person who would help him make his way through the medical evaluation board system, left. The second, he said, “wasn’t on the ball.”

“The Army is trying to give you the lowest amount of money possible,” he said....
And the Veterans Administration is backlogged 400,000 cases.
Soldiers go to VA to try for more benefits, but the department had a staggering 400,000-case backup on new claims in fiscal 2006, according to VA.
Then there's the soldier with the brain tumor who the military screwed.
In August 2004, as Spc. Karl Unbehagan, 29, reported to his new unit at Fort Benning, Ga., he developed intense migraine headaches. Doctors told the infantry soldier he was not used to the humid weather. A couple of months later, they ran a CAT scan.

“I had a tumor in the third ventricle of my brain,” Unbehagan explained, pointing to the shunt that runs from the scar on his head down to his stomach to relieve the pressure in his brain. “They realized it had nothing to do with the weather.”

The physical evaluation board rated him at zero percent, saying the tumor was a pre-existing condition. Unbehagan has been in the Army for four years, and his doctors found no proof the tumor existed before he joined, he said.
In order to appreciate what this means, read what the board does.
A soldier goes before a physical evaluation board if a medical evaluation board — a team of doctors — determines he is not able to do his job because of his injury. The physical evaluation board then determines again if the soldier should stay in the military and, if not, how much the Defense Department will compensate the soldier. If the soldier receives a disability rating of 30 percent or higher, he gets a disability retirement check based on years of service, rank and the rating percentage. He and his family will also receive medical benefits for life. If the rating is lower than 30 percent, he gets a one-time severance payment.
So basically, we have our soldiers dealing with the equivalent of State Farm - people whose job it is to screw you out of any possible benefit you might get.

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