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Pentagon Narrows Combat-Related Definition
From DAV Magazine
The Department of Defense (DOD) has adopted a policy that severely limits the number of injured and disabled service members who would not have to repay their military disability severance pay before they could receive disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The policy results from a DOD memorandum that redefines which injuries qualify as “combat-related.” The
memorandum authored by Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu affects
service members who receive a disability rating of 20 percent or less from the Defense Department, and
thus receive a severance payment rather than lifetime disability retirement pay.
Under Secretary Chu, apparently disregarding the broader intent of Congress, has limited the definition of
“combat-related” disability to exclude disability resulting from hazardous service, duty under conditions simulating war or disability incurred through an instrumentality of war incurred outside of a combat zone.
“In effect, Under Secretary Chu’s definition runs contrary to the eligibility rules covering Combat Related
Special Compensation (CRSC), making thousands of disabled veterans ineligible under the DoD definition,” said Washington Headquarters Executive Director David W. Gorman. “In effect, Under Secretary Chu eviscerates Congress’ intent for disabilities determined to be combat related.”
Last March, Chu issued a memorandum that narrowly defined combat-related disability as “a disease or
injury incurred in the line of duty as a direct result of armed conflict.” “The fact that a member may have incurred a disability during a period of war, or in an area of armed conflict, or while participating in combat operations is not sufficient” to support combat-related disability, according to Chu’s memo.
Contrary to the 2008 Defense Authorization Act, in which Congress defined disability as combat-related if it
resulted from service in a combat zone or performance of duty in combat related operations, Chu argued that the DoD “endorsed the premise that the benefit for those hurt in combat should be more robust than for members with disabilities incurred in other situations (e.g. simulation of war, instrumentality of war or participation in hazards not related to combat).”
Army veteran Lori Meshell is one veteran who suffers the impact of DoD’s more restrictive definition. In
Iraq, during one of the near-daily mortar attacks on her forward operating base near Balad she was injured, shattering her hip and injuring her back on rocks as she jumped for safety. “I was getting ready to go out on local patrol, and I had all my gear on,” Meshell said. “The attack alarms went off, and a shell was coming in. I dove on a bunch of rocks with all my gear. I shattered my hip, and it had to be replaced. “My bones weren't where they were supposed to be, and those they didn’t replace were realigned,” she said. Today, she is in chronic pain and suffers from arthritis. Walking with a limp, she was active in surfing, hiking and other athletic activities before her deployment and subsequent injury in Iraq. “Since I have been back from
Iraq, my joints are just disintegrating,” Meshell said. Despite the nature of her injuries, the Army used the narrow definition to deny that her injures were combat related. Further, the DOD’s narrow combat related
definition will affect the concurrent receipt of disability compensation and medical retirement pay.
CRSC eligibility requires disability that is the direct result of armed conflict, training that simulates war, hazardous duty or instrumentality of war.
But now retirees must first provide documentation that their disability is combat-related. “The Defense Department appears to be washing its hands of disabled veterans at every opportunity,” said Gorman. “The 2008 Defense Authorization Act requires documentation that shows a causal link between a current disability and a combat related event. “This is another example why we warned Congress against enacting
piecemeal concurrent receipt for veterans,” he said. “Had Congress enacted full and fair concurrent receipt of military retirement pay and VA disability compensation, we may not be having this debate today, and our veterans would be protected.”
The eligibility requirements for
• Retirees must apply to their respective
branch of service for approval,
• Retirees must be eligible to receive
military retirement pay,
• Retirees must be eligible to receive
VA disability compensation,
• Retirees must have an approved
combat-related VA disability rating of
10 percent or more,
• Retirees from active-duty must
have 20 years of active service,
• Temporary early retirees and medically
disabled retirees are allowed to
have less than 20 years of service, and
• Retired reservists must have 20
years of qualifying service.
Without the combat-related designation, VA disability compensation would be deducted from their military retirement pay, and the new generation of disabled veterans would have to repay any enhanced severance pay from the military to receive their VA disability compensation. “It is obvious that Congress will have
to inform Under Secretary Chu of its clear intent and to remove this narrow and limiting policy,” said Gorman. “We have asked Congress to protect the rights and benefits they have provided to our nation’s veterans. It would be shameful for this action to continue.”
The day the DOD picked this guy Chu to be Under Secretary is the day they had to break some kind of record for picking one of the biggest IDIOTS on the planet for that position.
This POS has been AGAINST Veterans from as far back as 2000! He's the same guy that said, "Veterans Compensation is extremely HURTFUL to the operation of the Armed Forces". WTF???
Now he decides on his own that he can Re-define the meaning Of the new law that was passed the first of this year in the 2008 NDAA By congress and signed by the President. So, here we go again with the Whole Re-Defining of Service Connected Injuries vs Combat Related Injuries!
The Difference between the two is this according to Congress,," A Broken back, Leg or any injury you get that is bad enough to Med. Board you out of the Service is just that, SERVICE CONNECTED"! You do not need to be awarded a Purple Heart, in order to collect your Service Branch Awarded Compensation!
When a Paratrooper jumps out on a training mission and injures himself so badly that he is found "Unfit" and has to take a Medical Discharge, he's literally Screwed out of everything according to this "Dick Weed Chu". Not only that, if the Poor guy took the severance money from the Army He Has to Pay it all back if he is awarded VA Compensation! Its Called OFFSET! Congress said No more Offset, Chu seems to think different!
The real Shi-tty thing about it is that some of the guys being Boarded out have accumulated as much as 19 years in service and under his "Interpretation" they should get a BIG ZERO!
CHU SUCKS and he should have been Fired as far back as the Veterans Disability Benefits Commission for the ANTI-VET Statements he made during that fiasco!
Good information Jinx. Hopefully this new administration will be loaded with Soldier/Veteran friendly people, instead of just a bunch of sunshine patriots. Veteran benifit programs are very complicated, and that is why I try to share my bad and good exsperiences with other veterans . And was recently accussed of bragging about the benifits that I EARNED. I would like to explain my very first shock to this forum so that tis board can advise others that they know can avoid these situations. Situation One, I applied for longevity retirement after 26 years of service, on my retirement physical it was found that I had multiple illnesses anddisabilities compared to my entrance physical so the ailments were clasified service incurred and I was placed on medical hold.. I was transported from Ft. Sheridan, IL. To Walter Reed M.C. to appear befor A fitness board, To determine if I would receive a medical retirement ( This was before CRSC ) It was determined that I was fit for duty , because I had applied for a longievity retirement I had assummed that I was fit . I should have applied for a medical retirement. But I did not know the extend of my disabilities until I had my retirment physical. A medical retirement at that time would have given me more pay. Now that CRSC has been established , It eliminates the difference in pay. But if you know someonethat is planning to retire from the military, and they have ailments that they know of , Advise them to look into what is best for them, A medical or a longevity retirement, There are still different benifits. Situation Two. When I learned that I had disabilities I paniced and decided to sign up for the Survivors Benift Program. Big big Gigantic mistake. Tell every Soldier that you know to stay away from SBP, I must pay into it until I am 70 years old (next year) It is now up to $92.00 My kids are grown and my wife is older than me and when I die she will get DIC dependent indemity compensation from VA. She can not draw both DIC and SBP she hasa choice of one or the other or if she cannot get a lump sum on SBP thatI put in every month since 1977 is lost. It would of been better if I had put that money into an annuity . I did not know. so I try to pass the word from my exsperience I am not bragging or boasting, I am trying to share valuable information with other Veterans Happy Veterans Day.