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Army IG's report points to faulty rating of wounded soldiers
Stars and Stripes
Jeff Schogol, Stars and Stripes
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

ARLINGTON, Va. — An Army Inspector General's report released Monday details shortcomings in the Army's system for rating how wounded soldiers are.

Among the findings: The Department of Veterans Affairs system for disability ratings needs to be updated to better represent how soldiers are injured, the report says.

The report recommends that the U.S. Army Medical Command look at a having a common physical for both the VA and Army.

The Army Times has reported that critics claim the Army is deliberately giving wounded soldiers less of a disability rating than they deserve to save money, but the Army has vehemently denied this.

"The U.S. Army highly disputes allegations made by one or two think-tank analysts that our veterans' service is in any way attempting to shortchange wounded soldiers on their needed disability benefits," said Army spokesman Paul Boyce in a February e-mail to Stars and Stripes.

Other findings include: The Army is not meeting its own standard for when evaluation boards should take place; the Army needs more personnel to deal with increased caseloads; and some soldiers are not coming back for checkups after being put on temporary retirement, the report says.

The report is available at PDF

The Army released the report late Monday after announcing that Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley was stepping down in the wake of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center controversy.

Last month, the Army announced the report had arrived at 87 recommendations to address shortcomings in the Army's disability evaluation system.

"To date, the Army's review of initial findings include that the training for personnel assisting soldiers is not standardized, that current information-management databases are inadequate, and that there are policy disconnects between Army regulations and Defense Department instructions," a Feb. 23 Army news release says.

Acting Army Secretary Peter Geren said Monday morning that he planned to give a copy of the report to Maj. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, who recently became commander of Walter Reed after The Washington Post exposed substandard conditions and bureaucratic hurdles facing patients there.

The report was commissioned by former Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey in April 2006. Harvey resigned earlier this year over the Walter Reed controversy.

Original Text