From my morning journalism newsletter:
The Scripps Howard News Service has, over the last month, been probing how veterans are compensated for injuries and illnesses. In the process of plowing through the databases, Scripps learned something nobody expected—that since the 1970s, possibly thousands of veterans have received millions of dollars in disability checks for venereal diseases they got while in military service. For example, the story tells about a Columbia, S.C., veteran who served from 1955 to 1958 and said he had caught gonorrhea about 10 times during and after his service, which caused arthritis in his left knee. A VA appeals board in 2005 evaluated him as 20-percent disabled and, therefore, eligible for about $200 a month. The Scripps story explains:
Scores of veterans across the country are getting lifetime checks from the government for gonorrhea, genital herpes and other venereal diseases they caught while in the ranks.
The disability payments are made under a little-known provision from three decades ago that entitles vets to monthly benefits for sexually transmitted diseases they contracted, or simply aggravated, while in the service—even if they became infected on their own time years ago.
Under the rule Congress created at the end of the Vietnam War, even genital warts are considered a “service-connected” condition entitling a vet to the same $100 or more a month for the rest of his or her life that those who suffer wounds or battle injuries can receive.
This enrages some veterans of combat in Iraq, particularly those who have had to battle the backlogged Department of Veterans Affairs bureaucracy to be deemed worthy of benefits for clearly war-related disabilities. For them, the fact that the VA’s resources and taxpayers’ wallets are being tapped for such claims is hard to stomach.
“It’s a crock,” said Jerry Yarbrough, a former volunteer fire fighter in Gibson County, Tenn., who suffered major systemic damage from heatstroke as an Army fueling specialist in the early days of the Iraq invasion and continues to fight for full benefits now that he’s “a virtual prisoner in my own home.”
The number of veterans getting benefits for sexually transmitted diseases is unclear. Repeated requests to the Department of Veterans Affairs for that information went unanswered.
But a review by Scripps Howard News Service of more than 60,000 cases under the purview of the VA’s Veterans Benefits Administration reveals that there likely have been thousands of vets since 1972 who, collectively, have drawn millions of dollars in payments for conditions they readily acknowledge came from illicit sexual activity.
Ok, not that living with the chirps can’t be demoralizing, but unless it’s a real live landmine, a soldier sticking his dick in some random hole—be it as an act of pleasure or an act of war since yes, Virginia, some soldiers DO use rape as a weapon—is NOT LIFE-THREATENING and therefore is NOT A HAZARD OF WAR. This is disgusting.
There better be a class-action lawsuit against the government over this, is all I’m saying.