The Pentagon narrowed the definition of a combat related injury. As of March, those with disabilities incurred while in a direct combat situation would get more benefits than those disabled during a training exercise for example.
The Supervisor for Disabled American Veterans in San Diego calls that "inherently unfair." "An injury is an injury, whether it happened in a war or whether it happened jumping out of a plane during an exercise," said Jim Galliher. Galliher feels there is no greater or lesser veteran, and he is upset the Pentagon, as he said, "took it upon itself to redefine the law."
The Pentagon says benefits should be greater for those wounded in combat than for those wounded during training, or hazardous duty not related to combat, or even while being sprayed with agent orange. Galliher said the differentiation doesn't stop there. He said the Pentagon also differentiates disabilities incurred in the same war zone. For example, military personnel who hurt themselves jumping into a fox hole to avoid a mortar attack during combat may not be classified as having a combat related injury because they were not shot or shelled.
In Galliher's opinion, the Pentagon is making the change to save money. "It's a tough economy, let's not try to win the economy back on the back of a veteran," he said.
He hopes people will write their representatives in Congress asking the Pentagon "to follow the law."
For its part, the Pentagon reportedly says the change is in keeping with the law.