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Old 03-19-2011, 09:30 AM
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Exclamation Young: More pay for troops who lose genitals

Young: More pay for troops who lose genitals

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Mar 17, 2011 1607 EDT
Benefits rates for service members who suffer traumatic injuries to their genitals are under review by Defense and Veterans Affairs department officials in the wake of complaints from a key lawmaker.

A revision could happen by summer, and might retroactively apply to the increasing number of service members who have suffered blast wounds in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young, R-Fla., chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee — and a frequent visitor, along with his wife, to wards for recovering combat veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. — has been pressing since fall for a review after hearing complaints from victims of the ubiquitous roadside bombs in the combat zones.

“If a man loses a penis, he doesn’t get the same benefits as if he lost a finger,” Young said Thursday at a congressional hearing where VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and members of his leadership team were testifying on the 2012 budget.

Disability benefits

“It isn’t fair, and it needs to be fixed,” Young said, describing groin injuries as one of the new signature wounds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
Young is talking about payments from Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, a VA-provided benefit that pays up to $100,000 to service members suffering life-changing injuries or disabilities.

The program provides $50,000 for the loss of a thumb, but only $25,000 for the loss of reproductive organs — and only if the service members is either hospitalized for 15 continuous days or suffers for a minimum of 30 days from inability to do at least two of six so-called “activities of daily living” — bathing, staying continent, dressing, eating, toileting, and getting into or out of a bed or chair. If the service member does not meet those qualifications, he gets nothing.

VA officials said most service members suffering genital injuries have other injuries, usually to the legs, that make them eligible for larger traumatic injury insurance payments. A double amputee, for example, receives the maximum $100,000 payment.

Young first raised in the issue in November, mentioned it again in a personal meeting with Shinseki in January, and sent VA a letter about the issue last week. He has not been satisfied with the response, said Harry Glenn, his spokesman.

Michael Walcoff, VA’s undersecretary for benefits, said VA and Defense Department officials are trying to decide whether a revision in payments is warranted.

They hope to resolve the question “no later than this summer,” Walcoff said.

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