Iraq Veteran who thinks Disability Checks are Harmful is Dead Wrong

According to an article titled “Iraq Veteran, Now a West Point Professor, Seeks to Rein In Disability Pay “written by Dave Philipps with credit to Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times, tells us that “Nearly 200 sick and wounded soldiers in a gym at Fort Carson last month listened silently as Lt. Col. Daniel Gade offered a surprising warning: The disability checks designed to help troops like them after they leave the service might actually be harmful.  As he paced back and forth in front of the soldiers, some of them leaning on crutches, Colonel Gade said that too many veterans become financially dependent on those monthly checks, choose not to find jobs and lose the sense of identity and self-worth that can come from work.  “People who stay home because they are getting paid enough to get by on disability are worse off,” he said. “They are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. They are more likely to live alone. You’ve seen these guys. And the system is driving you to become one of them, if you are not careful.”  It was a message that many veterans find offensive and misguided. But Colonel Gade is not your typical messenger. He is a combat veteran who lost a leg while serving as a tank company commander in Iraq in 2005. Colonel Gade assails the system. “From an economic standpoint, you would be crazy to get a job,” he said. Today he is a professor of public policy at the United States Military Academy at West Point, but he spends much of his spare time publishing essays and traveling the country pushing the idea that the Department of Veterans Affairs should move away from paying veterans for their wounds and instead create incentives for them to find work or create businesses.  “It’s a difficult issue to broach. People immediately think you are trying to shortchange veterans,” he said in an interview. “But I’m in a position to do it because I have skin in the game, literally.”

With all due respect to the Lt. Colonel, he is so far off the reservation that he will need a compass to get back on track.  Simply put many of those who receive disability, if they can get it at all, are those who cannot nor ever will be even considered for a job like he has.  He has a job that gives him the freedom to travel, pay his bills on time, get the medical and mental treatment he will need and feed his family but those that he seeks to educate cannot fully relate because this is not the case for them.  Many who apply are those who must have specialized degrees to find that transition job which erases all their fears coming home and allows them all the time and space necessary to heal.  They will be lucky if they can get a job as a greeter at the local Wal-Mart and evidenced by the so many Vietnam Veterans who still suffers but can’t find gainful employment.  You don’t have to take my word for it read further in the article and see the nearly very same opinion “No one wants to be disabled; they want to work,” said Garry Augustine, the Washington director for Disabled American Veterans. Mr. Augustine was wounded by a land mine in Vietnam and lost the use of his left hand and foot. “I’m a perfect example,” he said. “I came back severely injured, couldn’t walk. I needed compensation because I couldn’t work. I went to school on the V.A., got job training through the V.A., and worked my way off disability. The V.A. gave me my life back.”

“Colonel Gade, 39, says he wants to avoid a partisan fight over his ideas, which he says are first about helping veterans and second about saving money. “I think we can show we have a no-kidding better way to help veterans that is cheaper and more effective,” he said”.  Wanna save money stop creating unnecessary wars, paying extreme amounts of money for weapons, increase processing of disability claims and help veterans settle in quicker.  I can guarantee anyone who wishes to listen that any veteran would rather be working and if there was some way to give him/her that sense of dignity upon returning before long they will and like the gentleman mentioned above will work their way off disability.  Nothing drives veterans more than a sense of accomplishment and being able to stand on their own two feet, in a way of speaking, restores that steel in their backbones.  They are not unsure of themselves, they are unsure of the direction in which their lives are headed, fix that and you shall find more veterans rises as the phoenix from the flames than you ever thought possible.


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