Sunday, December 12, 2004

Some vets face tangle of red tape (12/12/04)

Tending to our wounded
Some vets face tangle of red tape

Former Army Reserve Sgt. Mary Herrera lost the use of her right arm after being wounded in Iraq. She says the system worked for her: She received her disability benefits and plans to attend college in Houston, where she now lives. -- Adriane Jaeckle / The Star

Where vets can find help
The United States has 25 million living military veterans, about three-quarters of whom served in wartime.
About 70 million people, about a quarter of the U.S. population, are potentially eligible for Veterans Affairs benefits because they are veterans, family members or survivors of veterans.

Where to find help
• U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, (800) 827-1000, The Web site includes a list of service organizations to help former soldiers.
• Disabled American Veterans, (859) 441-7300, Nonprofit organization of 1.2 million members founded in 1920 and dedicated to building better lives for disabled veterans and their families.

VA disability benefits
About 2.5 million U.S. veterans receive disability compensation.
Basic disability benefits range from $106 monthly (for those rated 10 percent disabled), to $2,239 (100 percent disabled).
Additional allowances are made for those with dependents and for those whose disability leaves them unable to work or who need assistance with daily living. Such factors can increase compensation to as much as $6,404 monthly.
Disability benefits are not subject to federal or state income tax and are adjusted to reflect cost-of-living increases.

Source: Department of Veterans Affairs, Disabled American Veterans

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Survival rates

A total of 11,246 soldiers have been wounded or killed in action in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The percentage of U.S. soldiers who survived their wounds:*
Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts

Persian Gulf War

Vietnam War

Korean War

World War II

World War I

*Casualty figures for the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are as of Friday.
Sources: Department of Defense, The New England Journal of Medicine

By John Strauss
December 12, 2004

ORLANDO -- Chief Warrant Officer Cody Sharp, an Army helicopter pilot in Iraq, got used to people shooting at him.

In April, his Kiowa Warrior had been taking fire all day.

"Baghdad was crazy that day," he said. "But I didn't look at it as being dangerous. It was just part of the job."

He spotted a dozen men with AK-47 rifles and rocket-propelled grenades and dropped the helicopter's nose, preparing to fire. At the last second, he turned away -- an old woman and a child were near the gunmen.

[partial text only; follow link for full article]


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