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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Important Military Benefit About to Expire

As of October 1, a stipend that pays $51 per day, plus lodging expenses, for a family member to stay with a severely injured soldier while he or she is recovering in a military medical center will expire according to this article in the New York Daily News
As politicians make grand speeches supporting our troops, families of our wounded soldiers are being told they soon will no longer receive the modest government stipend that helps them leave job and home to stay at their loved one's hospital bedside.

The majority of the 3,974 seriously wounded soldiers are young, and few earn more than $1,600 a month, tops. Their families are often of limited means and have a hard enough time keeping up with their bills. Family members forfeit wages and risk losing their jobs altogether as they help their soldier recover.

"None of these kids left a Park Ave. townhouse to go fight," observed one Army combat officer.

With exactly that in mind, the stipend was established in April 2003, just as the war in Iraq commenced. It lapses Sept. 30.

"I think nobody expected the war to last that long," an Army medical official said.

Surprise, surprise. A provision making the stipend permanent, Section 632 of HR4200, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005, is languishing in Congress as if it were not a crime to compound the anxieties of wounded heroes.

A House Armed Services Committee spokesman said HR4200 was "in conference" and suggested any current benefits to wounded soldiers would only "technically" expire and "go on as has been." Those who disagree include the Department of Defense, which allowed, "it appears there will be a gap in payment of per diem." (emphasis added)

Go read the rest because it's quite a tragic story.

This makes me so angry. The Adminstration pays lipservice to the welfare of the troops while they haven't got clue on how to provide for them.