28 de noviembre de 2007

INAUDITA práctica del PENTÁGONO exige que los militares heridos en Irak o Afganistán devuelvan dinero del bono recibido al enlistar, he ahí cuánto los apoyan

Wounded Vets Asked to Pay Up
The Associated Press
Monday 26 November 2007
New York - Service members seriously wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan after they received a $10,000 bonus for enlisting are being asked by the Pentagon to repay portions of the incentive money, says a U.S. senator who calls the practice an example of military policy gone wrong.
"A bill in the mail is not the kind of present our soldiers deserve in this holiday season," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. said. "Our veterans are not being treated with the dignity, respect and thanks that they deserve. It's just a disgrace."
At a news conference Sunday, he said the policy remained in effect despite a report last July by a presidential commission that wounded veterans were being unfairly penalized by a requirement that enlistees must fulfill their entire term of service or lose a pro-rated portion of their bonus.
"This policy and early discharge as a result of service-related injury is now preventing thousands of combat-wounded warriors from getting the bonuses they have earned," Schumer said. "This includes several hundred New Yorkers who suffered wounds or catastrophic injuries before concluding their duty."
He said that when the case of Jordan Fox, an Army sniper partially blinded by a roadside bomb in Iraq, was called to the Pentagon's attention, officials replied that the demand for him to repay $2,800 was a "clerical error" and canceled the debt.
If the Mount Lebanon, Pa., soldier's case was an isolated incident, there has been no explanation of why hundreds of other wounded veterans have also received letters demanding repayment, Schumer said. "When you talk to the Pentagon, you get different answers from different people," he said.
The numbers of veterans affected by the policy are not known. Schumer said his office had received several complaints, as had the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
"Asking wounded service members to repay part of their enlistment bonuses is an outrage," IAVA Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff said in an e-mailed statement.
"Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is pleased to work with Congress to put an end to this unfair practice," Rieckhoff said. "These injured heroes have made enormous sacrifices for our country and they deserve to be treated with the utmost honor and gratitude."
Standing in front of a World War I memorial, Schumer called on the Department of Defense to conduct an internal investigation and audit to identify recently wounded personnel who received the dunning letters and assure them that repayments were not necessary.
He also said he would support proposed legislation, to be called the Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act, to require full payment of bonuses to enlistees within 30 days of discharge from the service due to combat-related injuries.
As of Sunday, at least 3,875 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes eight military civilians. At least 3,157 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.
The AP count is three higher than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Friday at 10 a.m.

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