ARLINGTON, Va. — More than 800 wounded veterans can look forward to something extra in their Jan. 1 paychecks, thanks to the Pentagon playing catch-up on tardy combat-injury rehabilitation pay.
Instead of receiving either $205 or $430 in Combat Injury Pay, or CIP, 808 wounded veterans could receive up to $860 as the government makes amends, Craig Taylor, Combat Injury Pay program coordinator, told Stripes on Wednesday.
The amount of each check depends on whether a servicemember was an in- or outpatient when the government was supposed to pay him, and what his patient status is today, Taylor said in a telephone interview from his office in Alexandria, Va.
Congress authorized CIP in 2006 as a way to help compensate wounded and medically evacuated members of all services for losing out on combat pays that total $430 a month.
The stipend is supposed to kick in the first month the combat pays drop out.
But since CIP began, on April 1, 2006, “many wounded servicemembers were waiting for a month or more” to get their CIP payments, Taylor said.
The culprit, Taylor said, was a “programming glitch” in the Defense Finance and Accounting Service computer system that generates Leave and Earning Statements and resulting paychecks for all servicemembers.
“Every time we tried to pay them faster, the program kicked [the CIP request] back out,” Taylor said.
It took almost 18 months, but the DFAS system is now set up to pay CIP recipients immediately, Taylor said.
On Dec. 13, CIP officials made a one-time request to Pentagon financial officials to catch up on the payments still in arrears, Taylor said.
“It’s a little something extra for their pay stocking for December, and they deserve it,” Taylor said.
The exact amount of CIP is $430 minus any hostile-fire pay, which is $225.
Hostile-fire pay continues for up to three months after a servicemember is medically evacuated from theater, but only if he or she remains hospitalized. If hostile-fire pay is still in effect, the “offset” CIP pay is $205.
CIP payments last as long as the member is either hospitalized or living in an outpatient facility somewhere inside the military health care system — a Fisher House, for example.