Thursday, May 24, 2007

Not a disabled veteran

That's right folks,

I am not a disabled veteran.

There are currently thousands of wounded soldiers who will continue to serve in the military for many years. Some have lost limbs, but have their prosthetics and keep on fighting the good fight. There are those (like me) who will certainly receive disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs, after we leave the service.

Until then, however, we are invisible to them, and to every agency that uses the VA certificate of disability as the sole source of proof that you are a) a veteran and b) disabled. letters from doctors? Check, Sworn affadavit from self stating that you were injured on active duty? Check. Copy of Purple Heart certificate and Combat Action badge? Check. Note from the VA confirming that you are a cripple? Um, sorry. The VA will neither classify disability, nor provide a rating for you until you leave the military.

What set me off on this is the PA State Game Commission. I applied for a disabled veteran lifetime huntnig/furtaker permit. I sent in all of the above, including a very nice letter stating the issue with the VA. It went all the way up to their lawyer, who then said "Sorry, but we're bound by the statute, which says you must have the VA paperwork."

Same goes for the DMV, when I asked about disabled veteran license plates.

And the Fish and boating commission, when asked about disabled veteran fishing licenses.

You see, after 180 days of service, the Army (and the Federal Gummint) considers you a veteran. If you've so much as flown over the airspace of a hostile country, you're considered a combat veteran. If, however, you apply for any veteran's benefit from any state, local, or federal agency, suddenly you're not a veteran.

I received TSGLI from the Wounded Warrior Program. Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (TSGLI) is a traumatic injury protection rider under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) that provides for payment to any member of the uniformed services covered by SGLI who sustains a traumatic injury that results in certain severe losses.

According to the VA, until I am out of the Army, I am not a veteran. I am not looking for disability compensation (not yet) and I understand that I am ineligible for compensation/disability retirement until I retire. That's a no brainer. but I am really pissed that I am not a) seen as a veteran and b) eligible for things like a disabled veteran license plate, hunting license, fishing license, etc. until I quit the Army. In effect, until I say "this far and no further," I am neither disabled nor a veteran.

The VA isn't stupid, it's our lawmakers and the statutes and the way they write them.'


P.S. The state of PA also has a stipulation for members of the national guard and reserve forces if they have deployed within the last 18-24 months, were deployed overseas for a period of 180 consecutive days or more or were released early from such service because of an injury or disease incurred in the line of duty.--Great, except I am an active duty soldier, so this doesn't apply.

reduced-fee general hunting licenses are available to qualified residents on active and full-time in the U.S. Armed Forces. To qualify, applicants must be currently assigned to a facility outside of this Commonwealth but on temporary leave here. Oops, I am stationed in PA.

So, I was wounded, I am crippled (but apparently not disabled). I am on active duty, serving both the commonwealth of PA and the Nation, but the commonwealth could care less that I spent the same time, pounding the same sand and fighting the same enemy as the reserve and guard forces. IfI weren't stationed in PA, I wouldn't pay state taxes, but I do, and so I pay, but I can't even get a reduced-fee license like the soldiers who are residents but are stationed elsewhere and don't pay taxes here.

The way I see it, PA considers me an Orwellian "Non-person." Or, in the true spirit and fashion of this blog,

The commonwealth of PA has seen fit to tell me to go fuck myself, because as long as I serve, I don't matter to them, except on tax day.

No comments: