A PROGRAM FOR WOUNDED VETERANS THAT IS WORKING WELL
According to new data provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, servicemembers are receiving payments for serious wounds and trauma within 8 weeks from when the injuries are first sustained. The payments range from $25,000 to $100,000, depending on the severity of the injury. The average payout is approximately $64,000.
The payments are made possible thanks to legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Larry Craig and passed by Congress two years ago. The benefit, officially known as the Traumatic Injury Protection under the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance program (TSGLI), is informally referred to as the Wounded Warrior legislation. Coverage includes everything from the loss of limbs, hearing and sight, to less visible injuries, including the inability to carry out activities of daily living due to traumatic brain injury.
"Out of terrible tragedy, this is at least some good news for those who are injured and their families. That money is helping them cope during a time of incredible personal challenges," said U.S. Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho), who authored the legislation.
The proposal for such a benefit was presented to Sen. Craig by three young veterans who had served in Iraq and been injured there. One of them had lost a leg, another had lost both legs and the third had lost his sight. The young men explained the financial difficulties their families had experienced while they had recuperated during lengthy hospital stays. They said they did not want to see future veterans go through the financial difficulties they had suffered.
That meeting led to swift passage of legislation which has now provided nearly $200 million to servicemembers seriously injured since the war on terror began.
"Getting this money out quickly to our seriously injured men and women is very important to me. At my request VA officials are now doing a top to bottom review to see how they can speed up the process. I look forward to the results of that examination," said Craig, the Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
Since the legislation became effective in December of 2005, more than 3,000 servicemembers have received a total of $193,820,000. Eighteen of those individuals are in Craig's home state of Idaho. Collectively those Idahoans have received $1.025 million.
In January Sen. Craig introduced legislation (S. 225) which would expand the coverage area now specified by law. The expanded definition in Craig's new legislation, if adopted by Congress, will allow servicemembers injured outside the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters - from October 7, 2001, but before December 1, 2005 - to receive payment for their serious injuries. Craig's new legislation is cosponsored by Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii).