The Los Angeles Times has a story today about a regulation change that narrowed the definition of a combat-related disability, which is drastically affecting the benefits thousands of veterans receive.
The Pentagon says it’s following Congress’ orders when it passed a “wounded warrior” law in January. But the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee told the paper that the narrower definition was not the intent.
Secretary of the Army Pete Geren was at Fort Lewis earlier today, and I asked him about it. Here’s what he said.
"In the Army, our approach is the injury or need of the soldier is what drives our response. Some try to say an injury that happened one place should be treated differently than an injury that happened elsewhere. In the Army, we consider every soldier based the wound, injury or illness. What is the need of that soldier? Do they need to be in a (warrior transition unit) and have that type of comprehensive care that a WTU offers? Or would they be better off remaining with their unit?
Now, we’ve made some adjustments over the course of the 18 months we’ve had WTUs. We’ve changed the aperture a little bit so we don’t have people in the WTUs that don’t really need the comprehensive care they provide. We want to make sure the cadre we provide is able to meet the needs (of those in WTUs). In the Army, if your injury is at Fort Lewis in a construction accident or in Iraq in a combat accident, we’re concerned about needing your healthcare needs. We don’t make a distinction based on where you got the injury."