Just recently, the Pentagon changed its definition of "combat-related disabilities," in contravention (in spirit, if not in content) to the "wounded warrior" law passed by Congress this past January. Let's take a look at two people directly affected - or infected, as the case may be - by the Pentagon.
Marine corporal James Dixon has been wounded twice in Iraq; once by a land mine and again by a roadside bomb. His injuries include a dislocated hip, hearing loss, concussion and traumatic brain injury in addition to PTSD. Army Sgt. Lori Meshell received a shattered hip, crushed back and broken knees incurred while diving for cover when her unit came under mortar attack.
The Pentagon, in its wisdom, has ruled that in both cases, the injuries were not combat related.
Okay, this is cretinous in the extreme. How exactly then did these two soldiers receive their wounds? Who planted the roadside bomb and the mine that blew Cpl. Dixon out of his socks? The Navy SEALs? How, precisely, do you get mortared except but in combat?
Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin (D - Mich) was quoted in an article in the LA Times by David Zucchino as saying that the Pentagon's "more conservative definition" was "not our intent" when Congress passed the act in January. The previous legislation regarding the definition of combat-related disabilities passed years ago by Congress was not altered in any way by the January amendments. There are many, including the Disabled American Veterans Association, who believe that the Pentagon, in changing that definition, has not only acted outside the intent of Congress but also outside the law.
This entire shameful affair is thought to be done in the name of saving money. The entirely bogus war in Iraq has already volatized about $1 trillion and now the Pentagon is nickle-and-diming the soldiers who are returning, often after multiple tours, ostensibly out of a sense of fiscal responsibility? Well, it wouldn't be the first time. On January 7th, 2006, the New York Times ran an article by Michael Moss who dug up a secret report by the Pentagon that revealed that 80% of the US Marines killed in combat from wounds to the upper body would have survived if they'd been issued trauma plates for their Interceptor Vests. And yet, even though this armour was readily available in 2003, the Pentagon was withholding it from troops in the field even in light of the pleas from combat commanders. Similarly, they dragged their heels on armouring up Humvees while troopers welded scrap metal onto them in a desparate attempt to make these "purple heart boxes" somewhat bullet-proof. The delivery of the more heavily armoured M-Raps is also far behind schedule. And after troops, in desparation, pleaded with their families to personally buy and mail them trauma plates, the Pentagon stepped in and banned the practice on the excuse that the plates bought on the open market might not be up to US military standards. Better nothing at all than something that's only 99.9999999% up to snuff.
This is beneath contempt, especially when it comes from a bunch of brass-buttoned non-combatants sitting in an air-conditioned office thousands of miles away from where men and women are getting crippled and dying on the basis of their decisions.
Actually, I would contend that this valiant attempt to save the taxpayer's dollars is actually counter-productive. After all - how much does a burial in Arlington Cemetary cost?