"[The number of veterans getting disability benefits] went from 102,000 and change in 2001... and now it's down to 89,500," says Parker. "It's counterintuitive. Why are the number of disability retirees shrinking during wartime?"Three guesses, first two don't count:
"I don't fully think they were prepared for the length of time this war is going to last," [Hong] Wyberg [mother of Tim Ngo, injured in a grenade explosion in Iraq, rated 10% disabled by the Pentagon, later rated 100% disabled by the VA] says. "They had no idea of how many injuries or the type of injuries that were going to come out of this."But don't despair; like the situation at Walter Reed, the Pentagon is aware there is a problem:
Michael Parker retired from the Army in October, and he thinks Wyberg's suspicion is correct.
"The more I looked into it, I realized that this system does not have the soldier's back at all," says Parker.
Pentagon officials conceded that the disability system doesn't work as well as it should. They admitted it is too bureaucratic and too often adversarial. They said they would listen to suggestions for change.Besides, in another Friedman Unit or two, we'll know whether or not this was all worth it.