Injured Soldiers Battle Redtape to Collect Payment


Staff Sgt. Nicholas Lanier, pic courtesy of the AP.

Like too many injured combat veterans, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Lanier occupies an uneasy position between the military and the outside world. After a major back injury sustained in Iraq, he is no longer able to serve in Army. This wasn’t the end of his problems, however. The AP reports:

But he can’t yet accept a civilian job because he doesn’t know when the military will discharge him. He has no clue how much the government will pay him in disability compensation related to his injury, so he can’t make a future budget. He just waits.

The system that keeps Lanier in limbo arose to rectify an even bigger problem. Before 2007, injured soldiers had to go through both a medical board and the Veteran Affairs Department in order to claim any disability payments. In the meantime, many were going broke. Now troops like Lanier can continue to draw their military pay while these claims are processed, but the uncertainty of the new process is still difficult for the personnel and the families that they support. The typical injured soldier is passed back forth between the Defense Department and the VA for more than two years before he or she collects payment and is able to pursue civilian employment.

Injured troops already face a doubly difficult adjustment. They must get used to civilian life and to life with a disability. The new system appears to be an improvement over the old, but given the sacrifices they’ve made, we owe our soldiers better than this two year purgatory.

BlazeSports is  committed to serving veterans with disabilities. We regularly organize events for transitioning soldiers, like last week’s Four-Post Regional Games at Ft. Benning. And our annual conference, to be held September 15-18, will include a special session directly addressing the fitness and athletic needs of vets with disabilities. For more info on these services, feel free to contact us at 404-270-2000.

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