From VFW Magazine, March 2008.
A section of the 2008 Defense Authorization Act offers better care and benefits for wounded troops and their families, as well as easing new vets' transition into civilian life. The House and the Senate approved H.R. 4986 on Jan. 22, and President Bush signed it into law on Jan. 28.
Here are some of the noteworthy benefits of the Wounded Warrior section:
* Troops who are discharged for combat-related injuries will receive a minimum of 12 months basic pay, while those with non-combat related conditions will receive a minimum of 6 months pay.
* VA will provide five years (up from 2 years) of automatic hospital care for troops without requiring them to prove service-connection.
* The Pentagon will conduct a retroactive review of disability-related discharges to determine if troops received adequate services.
* Any veteran who requests mental health help will receive an exam within 30 days.
* Spouses, parents, siblings or children of wounded troops who provide care can receive up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave from a private-sector job, possible space-available military and VA medical care and job placement help.
* A standardized policy for all services to evaluate and determine if a wounded servicemember can stay on active duty, and, if not, how he or she will be compensated.
* A report, including numbers, issued to Congress on personality-disorder discharges.
* Studies on brain injuries, special needs for women veterans and support services for families.
The Bill requires that a comprehensive policy for improved treatment for wounded vets be in place by July 1. According to an Air Force Times article, Congress wants reports every three months on how the plan is working.