Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) introduced legislation today to ensure that veterans discharged for “combat-related” injuries receive the benefits they have earned. In March 2008, the DoD narrowed the definition of “combat-related” and it has cost disabled veterans thousands of dollars in benefits. The legislation would revert back to the definition used prior to March 2008.
“This policy change has denied men and women in our armed forces - who have obviously sustained combat-related injures - access to thousands of dollars in benefits,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “This is unacceptable. Our brave men and woman in the armed services put their lives at risk everyday for this country and the least we can do is pay them the benefits they have earned.”
Last year, the Department of Defense issued a directive-memo which narrowed the scope of the definition of “combat-related.” This new definition made it more difficult for disabled veterans to receive their benefits from both the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The previous definition of “combat-related” was broadly defined and covered most, if not all, injuries sustained in a combat zone, combat training or other hazardous service. The new policy restricts the definition to include only those injured directly through armed conflict. As a result, members of the military who were injured while taking cover from incoming fire or sustained injuries from a roadside bomb have had their injuries ruled as being unrelated to combat, costing them thousands of dollars in benefits.
Due to his concerns with the change in policy and its impact on disabled veterans, Congressman Adam Smith introduced bipartisan legislation to require the Department of Defense to revert back to the definition used prior to the policy change in March 2008.
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