Monday, October 17, 2005

Love How The Pentagon Supports Our Troops.

This story should shock me, but sadly it doesn't.

For Injured U.S. Troops, 'Financial Friendly Fire'

Flaws in Pay System Lead to Dunning, Credit Trouble
By Donna St. George
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 14, 2005; A01

His hand had been blown off in Iraq, his body pierced by shrapnel. He could not walk. Robert Loria was flown home for a long recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he tried to bear up against intense physical pain and reimagine his life's possibilities.

The last thing on his mind, he said, was whether the Army had correctly adjusted his pay rate -- downgrading it because he was out of the war zone -- or whether his combat gear had been accounted for properly: his Kevlar helmet, his suspenders, his rucksack.

But nine months after Loria was wounded, the Army garnished his wages and then, as he prepared to leave the service, hit him with a $6,200 debt. That was just before last Christmas, and several lawmakers scrambled to help. This spring, a collection agency started calling. He owed another $646 for military housing.

I wonder if the six-figure mercenaries the DOD and their corporate cronies hire are bound to the same rules.

"I was shocked," recalled Loria, now 28 and medically retired from the Army. "After everything that went on, they still had the nerve to ask me for money."

Loria's story has a happy ending of sorts:

His outraged wife, Christine Loria, called the local newspaper in Middletown, N.Y., which published an article, and New York lawmakers became involved: Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer and Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey (D). Within a matter of days, the debts were cleared, and Yankees owner George Steinbrenner donated $25,000 to Loria.
It is time for Congress to get involved. Instead of kicking the New Deal, the Great Society and the Army Corp of Engineers out of existence, maybe they can help the men and women who have left their youth, innocence, and bodies on the battlefield.

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