Disability system leaves troops in 'vast unknown'
By Published: August 18, 2011
Thousands of American troops are in limbo as they wait up to two years to be discharged under a new disability system that was designed to be more efficient than in years past, but is proving to be everything but, according to the Associated Press.
While the new system has some benefits, the challenges are vast for the 11,730 Guard, Reserve and active duty soldiers who are in the midst of the new process
Many soldiers going through the program are not fully fit to serve, but can’t plan for a future because they don’t know when they will be discharged, can’t work as a civilian until their discharge is complete and they can only guess how much money the government will pay in disability compensation. The change also impacts the Army’s readiness, because new troops can’t enlist until others are discharged.
"We are growing significantly every month," said Army Maj. Gen. Gary H. Cheek, the outgoing director of military personnel management. "We really don't have an indication of when this will level off, and we are doing everything that we can, even at the four-star level, to try and improve this process and get it to a reasonable time frame."
Read more from the Associated Press on the new disability system.
Army Staff Sgt. Nicholas Lanier rests his back after dinner as his wife Catherine and 8-year-old daughter Juliette finishes the dishes at his home Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011, in Hinesville, Ga. A combat veteran and father to four daughters, he can't remain in the military because of a serious back injury earned in Iraq. But he can't yet accept a civilian job because he doesn't know when the military will discharge him. He has no clue how much the government will pay him in disability compensation related to his injury, so he can’t make a future budget.
Stephen Morton/AP photo