Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hurt, Homeless, and Hungry

Veterans, can you believe it?

Yeah, support the troops -- as war looters rob us blind!

Happy Thanksgiving, troops!

"New battle for injured vets: benefits; 'Combat-related' definition change spurs outrage" by David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times | November 27, 2008

LOS ANGELES - Marine Corporal James Dixon was wounded twice in Iraq - by a roadside bomb and a land mine. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, a concussion, a dislocated hip, and hearing loss. He was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Army Sergeant Lori Meshell shattered a hip and crushed her back and knees while diving for cover during a mortar attack in Iraq. She has undergone a hip replacement and knee reconstruction and needs at least three more surgeries.

In each case, the Pentagon ruled that their disabilities were not combat-related. In a little-noticed regulation change in March, the military's definition of combat-related disabilities was narrowed, costing some injured veterans thousands of dollars in lost benefits - and triggering outrage from veterans' advocacy groups....


Dixon said he was denied at least $16,000 in benefits before he fought the Pentagon and won a reversal of his noncombat-related designation.

"I was blown up twice in Iraq, and my injuries weren't combat-related?" Dixon said. "It's the most imbecile thing I've ever seen." Meshell, who is appealing her status, estimates she is losing at least $1,200 a month in benefits. Despite being injured in a combat zone during an enemy mortar attack, she said, her wounds would be considered combat-related only if she had been struck by shrapnel.

Meshell said the military had suggested that at least some of her disability was caused by preexisting joint deterioration. "Before I went over there, I was fine - I was perfectly healthy," Meshell said. "This whole thing is causing me a lot of heartache."


FITZWILLIAM, N.H. - On Thanksgiving Day one year ago, Bradford Collier passed the holiday crouched behind a cluster of apartments in St. Petersburg, Fla., watching alligators skulk across a stagnant retention pond. Collier, 48, was drunk.

Phil Gray, 61, spent the holiday in Boston, also inebriated, though he eventually found the energy and sense to make his way to the Pine Street Inn for a decent meal. Today, Collier and Gray will offer thanks as they savor a home-cooked feast with their "family," 13 other veterans scarred by years of drug and alcohol abuse who, day by soul-testing day, are clawing their way toward a safe and sober life.

The holiday cheer will unfold at Veteran Victory Farm here, a unique, pioneering program carved out of 80 acres of New Hampshire woods, where homeless veterans raise animals, grow vegetables, and rediscover the discipline and camaraderie of military service in their quest for sobriety. For some of the veterans, today will mark the first time in decades they will be sober, and not alone, on Thanksgiving.... --more--"

Why is their ONE VET that is HOMELESS?!