All branches of the armed forces grant officers rating of 50% or higher than enlisted personnel. The Military Times dug through five years of reports from the Department of Dense Office of the Actuay and discovered the average payment for a disabled Air Force officer in 2005 was $2,604 a month, about $6000 more than the Army’s average. For enlisted airmen, the average payment was $926 per month compared to an average of about $770 for enlisted soldiers. Enlisted Marines averaged $753 per month.
The higher percent a wounded soldier is rated, the higher is the rate of disability payment. The proportion of officers who received disability retirement ratings of 50% or more—resulting in higher retirement checks – significantly outpaced the percentage of enlisted men who received similar ratings. It appears officers know how to work the system and get higher benefits. But, it is also apparent there is a systematic bias in favor of officers who get wounded – they will wind up being judged to have a higher rate of disability which guarantees more disability payments. General Richard Cody, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army told a congressional hearing: “At the end of the day, it looks unfair, and quite frankly, we’re being stingy as a nation.”
A startling finding by the Military Times reveals that while 5,500 MORE soldiers went through the disability system in 2005 than in 2001 (before any war or fighting) only 79 more soldiers were awarded a permanent disability rating. General Cody cited the case of Sgt. Michael Pinero who is going blind but was only awarded a 10% disability rating. Ron Smith, deputy general counsel for Disabled American Veterans cites the case of a soldier who lost use of an arm and received a disability based on a different ailment.
Thank God that Democrats gained control of Congress this year. Several committees are now at work to deal with these inequities.