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Wounded American Vets Not The Only Ones Being Neglected After Return From Duty

 
Lt. Col Smedley Butler
User ID: 137330
United States
10/06/2006 10:04 AM
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Wounded American Vets Not The Only Ones Being Neglected After Return From Duty
Wounded ... and a pay cut
Oct. 6, 2006. 05:24 AM
BRUCE CAMPION-SMITH
OTTAWA BUREAU


OTTAWA—His body torn apart by shrapnel, on painkillers and facing months of rehabilitation, Trooper Jeffrey Hunter had been in a German hospital just hours when he was given the news — he was losing his danger pay.

"They just went in and told him he's not getting it because he's not in theatre anymore," said his father Bill Hunter, of Aurora.

"This is a kid that may not walk again, we don't know. He could wind up losing one of the legs from infection ... and they go in and tell him he's not going to get his danger pay.

"When does the danger end for him? I don't understand this," he said angrily.

His 23-year-old son, who arrived in Afghanistan in August, was left badly wounded in Tuesday's attack west of Kandahar that killed two of his fellow soldiers.

He was airlifted to Landstuhl, Germany, for advanced medical care. Yesterday, to add to his already long list of worries, military officials added another — they confirmed he was no longer entitled to his "operational allowances."

Those allowances — totalling $2,111 a month for soldiers serving in Afghanistan — are meant to compensate for the hardships and risks of the mission.

But under military rules, if a soldier is injured and removed from Afghanistan, that soldier will lose the right to collect these financial perks, which can boost monthly pay by more than 30 per cent.

As well, the salary soldiers earn in Afghanistan is tax-free and that perk disappears, too.

But the tough message delivered to the wounded soldier yesterday angered his father and left him questioning the military's support for its injured troops.

"He hadn't been there six hours," Hunter said yesterday.

"He's in a lot of pain and I've got someone from the military going in and telling him they're not going to give him his danger pay. ... This is not right.

"He's going to have a long-time therapy, a lot longer than the six months he was sent away for in Afghanistan," Hunter said. "Why aren't these kids getting danger pay?"

Military officials declined to comment on the specifics of Hunter's case. They noted that the defence department has the discretion to continue to pay the military allowance for an extra 25 days — and usually does — but there is no indication yet that Hunter will receive it.

Liberal MP Dan McTeague (Pickering-Scarborough East) has been leading the push to have the "insensitive" policy overturned, saying injured soldiers should continue to collect the financial incentives until their tour of duty was due to end.

Officials with Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor have so far dismissed calls to rethink the policy and accused opposition MPs of trying to "mislead" the public.

But Hunter's plight — a situation faced by dozens of other wounded soldiers — puts a human face on a policy that risks ensnaring the Conservatives in another public relations nightmare on the Afghanistan issue.

The family's concerns also offer a glimpse into a largely unseen side of Canada's war in Afghanistan — the trauma and turmoil of the wounded soldiers and their distraught families. So far, more than 150 Canadian soldiers have been injured in the conflict since 2001, compared with the 39 killed.

"I don't want to be a spokesperson but there are other families out there ... the government should be supporting us now in our time of need," said Hunter, a retired 31-year veteran of the Toronto police force.

But even this father of three admits he's been badly jarred by his family nightmare that started with a phone call from a military chaplain in Kandahar.

"The padre asks who you are. He said, `I have Jeffrey here and he wants to talk to you,' and they put him on the phone," Hunter recalled.

"Through his yelling and screaming, he told us he had been wounded and his legs were broken. Then they took the phone off and took him into surgery," he said.

His son, a member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, was one of several soldiers providing security for road construction near Kandahar when insurgents attacked with mortars, rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire. Sgt. Craig Paul Gillam and Cpl. Robert Thomas James Mitchell were killed.

Hunter survived the attack but suffered a shattered leg and shrapnel wounds across his body, his father said.

The wounded soldier has since been able to call his family from his hospital bed in Germany.

"He said, `Dad, I'm not in good shape. When you see me, I don't look good,'" Hunter recalled.

He's expected to be flown to Ottawa Saturday and later transferred to Toronto's Sunnybrook for follow-up treatment.

But to add insult to injury, his parents were told yesterday that they would have to pay their own expenses to get to Ottawa to meet their son.
* Evil Rex *

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10/06/2006 11:55 AM
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Re: Wounded American Vets Not The Only Ones Being Neglected After Return From Duty
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Anonymous Coward
User ID: 151649
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10/06/2006 12:38 PM
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Re: Wounded American Vets Not The Only Ones Being Neglected After Return From Duty
hey he is not in a combat arena and does not recieve hazardous duty pay. period

what dont you understand.

he is gravely wounded and will recieve his regular pay and 100% medical and disability for the rest of his life plus education for free.

and you wanna bitch about a 100 or more bucks he aint getting because he dont meet criteria.

besides explain to me why a person such as yer son, would sell his mind body and soul to go fight in iraq, what for the bush cartels alleged "cause"

or for the allmighty college money, the future education that is highly overrated.

or was it the great job he had in the military, that would open the doors to all sorts of great jobs in the civilian world. like cop, and truck driver or security specialist.

or did he just wanna be a GI joe and be hardcore and got suckered into the big govt lie.

i feel sorry for him and all of our soldiers........but then again not to sorry they were not drafted!!!!

they volenteered. and negitives far outway the positives for that choice.

besides the first thing ya learn in bootcamp is

DONT VOLENTEER!!!
BeNu

User ID: 130546
United States
10/06/2006 12:44 PM
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Re: Wounded American Vets Not The Only Ones Being Neglected After Return From Duty
hey he is not in a combat arena and does not recieve hazardous duty pay. period

what dont you understand.

he is gravely wounded and will recieve his regular pay and 100% medical and disability for the rest of his life plus education for free.

and you wanna bitch about a 100 or more bucks he aint getting because he dont meet criteria.

besides explain to me why a person such as yer son, would sell his mind body and soul to go fight in iraq, what for the bush cartels alleged "cause"

or for the allmighty college money, the future education that is highly overrated.

or was it the great job he had in the military, that would open the doors to all sorts of great jobs in the civilian world. like cop, and truck driver or security specialist.

or did he just wanna be a GI joe and be hardcore and got suckered into the big govt lie.

i feel sorry for him and all of our soldiers........but then again not to sorry they were not drafted!!!!

they volenteered. and negitives far outway the positives for that choice.

besides the first thing ya learn in bootcamp is

DONT VOLENTEER!!!
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 151649

In the USA military yes to all of the above.
But this person is a Canadian, guess you didn't read the post.