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The Human Costs of Bush's Wars: The Pentagon's "People System" Still Doesn't Work

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 08:37 AM
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The Human Costs of Bush's Wars: The Pentagon's "People System" Still Doesn't Work
The Human Costs of Bush's Wars: The Pentagon's "People System" Still Doesn't Work
by Col. Daniel Smith | Nov 28 2007



Jordon Fox--does the name mean anything to anyone other than his family and personal associates? Probably not, unless you happened to be listening to yesterday's news summaries when his name was mentioned.

What about Tyson Johnson III or Robert Loria? No? Not surprising.

They are but three of the more than 29,000 U.S. service members wounded in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. They are also among the thousands of separated war veterans who have had to wrestle with a dysfunctional military medical bureaucracy to receive the medical and rehabilitative care to which they are entitled and for assistance navigating the military's convoluted process that determines whether an injured soldier should be medically discharged and referred to the Veterans Administration for continuing medical treatment.

They are also three of an unknown number of injured service members who have been hit with debt notices from the Defense Finance and Accounting Office (DFAS).

Jordan Fox's case is but the latest to break, briefly, above the media's "human interest" horizon--and only because his mother was one of the prime movers behind "Operation Pittsburgh Pride," a volunteer effort to send "care" packages to Pittsburgh-area service men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush noted and thanked her for her part in the project. Moreover, when Fox was seriously wounded by an improvised explosive device, Bush sent a letter to the family expressing his hope that the young soldier would recover.

Well, Jordan Fox did recover; so did Johnson and Loria. But they then found themselves struggling with serious financial wounds inflicted by the Pentagon--garnished wages, bad credit reports, and even pursuit by civilian debt collection agencies hired by the Pentagon if the money "owed" had not been completely paid back before the soldier was discharged.

Loria and Johnson's troubles date back to early 2005. Loria's pay was not adjusted when he was medically evacuated from the war zone to the U.S.--e.g., combat pay, separation pay, special hazardous duty pay. Johnson, who had received a cash bonus for enlisting for three years, was told he had to pay back the bonus because he had not "completed" the three years specified in his contract. At the time the Washington Post recounted their financial woes (October 14, 2005), DFAS said that it was still seeking to resolve claims against 232 of 331 wounded veterans that DFAS said "owed" Uncle Sam.

In late April 2006, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on military pay entitled "Hundreds of Battle-Injured GWOT Soldiers Have Struggled to Resolve Military Debt." The GAO discovered that 1,300 former service members--including 400 who died in combat--were carried in military financial records as debtors to the federal government to the tune of $1.5 million. GAO pointed to antiquated computer systems in DFAS, lack of software interface between personnel, medical, and financial data bases, and a finance and accounting system more concerned with exact and full completion of enlistment or re-enlistment contracts than with helping the individual .

more...

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/11261
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