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"Should the military keep disabled soldier in?" Topic

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1,088 hits since 13 Oct 2010
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Dropzonetoe Fezian13 Oct 2010 7:37 p.m. PST

With the number of disabled soldiers coming home many forced to end their military career way to short do you think that the military should retain them in non combat related positions?

Why loose expert knowledge and years of experience for a person who looses a leg. That SGT what lost a leg could still run a range, teach in training, not to mention the piles of non combat jobs they could still do.

I mean I spent 5 years typing on a computer for the Army, a wheelchair bound vet could do the job just as well.

There are jobs they could do, and experience they could pass on to the next generation of soldiers.

Just wondering what others think on this topic?

kyoteblue Inactive Member13 Oct 2010 7:40 p.m. PST

If they want to stay on they should be able too.

DesertScrb13 Oct 2010 8:25 p.m. PST

I remember reading about one paratrooper who lost a leg but remained in the Army awhile back.

Top Gun Ace Inactive Member13 Oct 2010 8:34 p.m. PST


BW195913 Oct 2010 8:44 p.m. PST

Yes, I like your ideas dropzonetoe.

quidveritas Inactive Member13 Oct 2010 8:56 p.m. PST


Troops should be combat ready. There may be many garrison duties they could perform but these guys are dead weight where the combat mission is concerned -- and ultimately that is the mission.

Disabled vets can work in the civil service or as a civilian technician on a military base. The make more money doing this BTW

Combat slots need to be filled with combat ready troops.


Jay Arnold Inactive Member13 Oct 2010 9:28 p.m. PST

Combat slots need to be filled with combat ready troops.

Too true.

That being said there are scads of slots that will never be deployed. Garrison units, for example. Training units are another. Depot level maintenance is another. Allen will argue these jobs should be given to DoD civilians/contractors, and he may be right (but that's a topic for another discussion).

In the meantime, there are plenty of eyeless, legless and armless combat vets that could fill these roles. And in some cases, do.

While I was at Bragg, there was a Golden Knight who lost both legs as a result of a mid-air collision. He stayed on in the Golden Knights.

The hard-hearted "mission first" attitude is slowly going to the wayside. The Army is realizing that Soldiers have lives outside of the unit and are accommodating these needs. Whether this is a good or bad thing is for another discussion. However, DXing an otherwise able Soldier because he or she left a limb on an Iraqi highway or in an Afghan village does not jibe with the Warrior Ethos of "I will never leave a fallen comrade." But then again, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Personal logo Dan Cyr Supporting Member of TMP13 Oct 2010 9:30 p.m. PST

Non combat slots, especially in state side posts, should be filled with qualified disabled soldiers. Keep them where they are needed, wanted and belong.


Buff Orpington Inactive Member14 Oct 2010 2:48 a.m. PST

Very emotive subject and there are pros & cons to both sides. Lots of arguments above in favour of retaining disabled troops but would concentrating them in non combat roles mean that the able bodied get rotated through combat posts more often?
If the specialised roles are being filled by disabled troops does that block able bodied troops career development?
The hard truth over here is that the defence budget will be slashed, 1000's of posts will go and that the MoD has a long history of trying to minimise the compensation it pays to disabled vets.

CPT Jake Inactive Member14 Oct 2010 3:00 a.m. PST

If you allow guys that are non-deployable to stay in, even in stateside support type jobs, you deny thse jobs to the healthy guys. So the healthy guys do all the crap deployments with less of a break as the man power end strength of the services is capped. Keep 10,000 disablked and non-deployables on the books and that is 10,000 less troops to share the 'fun' assignments. It just don't work nor is it right. Doesn't the guy with several combat tours deserve a chance at a non-combat slot of he is the correct MOS? Or is the attitude 'Screw him, use him until he is dstroyed then we'll give him a cushy assignment'?

Having said that, the medical technologies today allow good motivated guys to overcome some massive setbacks, like losing a limb. There is a recent amputee graduate of the Army sniper school. I'm pretty sure he does not see himself as disabled. If the trooper can overcome what he was dished out and meet the qualifications for his MOS (or switch into an MOS where he can meet the qualifications) by all means allow it and encourage it.


Jay Arnold Inactive Member14 Oct 2010 3:57 a.m. PST

Jake, you make some good points. I'd like to see all of us get a break from deployments, if you know what I mean.

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP14 Oct 2010 4:46 a.m. PST
Personal logo Jlundberg Supporting Member of TMP14 Oct 2010 5:10 a.m. PST

There was the story of hte guy that lost two legs, trained up and qualified for Advanced Infantry badge and is now deployed. no question that he should stay in. Not everybody can bounce back like that and the disabled guys should have an opportunity to serve in hte civil jobs. I think Jake has the key. Some of thos non-combat jobs are great places to recharge from the pace of deployment. The Army and USMC have been through the wringer in the last decade, and I hope they get the chance to spin down after finishing our current commitments successfully.

Larry R Inactive Member14 Oct 2010 7:04 a.m. PST

100% yes

BigDan Supporting Member of TMP14 Oct 2010 8:05 a.m. PST

And eventually we will be creating bogus jobs to keep the disabled soldier employed.

I have a hard time saying they need to be discharged, but I know what would be best for the Army.

aecurtis Fezian Inactive Member14 Oct 2010 8:35 a.m. PST

"Allen will argue these jobs should be given to DoD civilians/contractors…"

In the case of disbled veterans, I'm of two minds, like most of you. Keeping them on active duty provides an opportunity for inspiration and motivation, as well as the sense of comradeship. Also a reality check: I remember when we were married, my father-in-law and his friends (all WWI vets) learned I was going to be a tanker, and kept teasing the missus that she'd better get used to holding hands with a stump.

We didn't have that many serving reminders, back in the '70s and '80s, that each of us might be called upon to make sacrificies. It's different now.

But this is an issue we need to look at hard in this new era of Eternal War. Seems to me there are a couple of equitable options that might work:

- Set aside a percentage of end-strength slots to be filled those who have becaome disabled (as a result of combat action?). Allocate them across the force. The idea would be that only a portion of, say, recruiting slots would be filled by the disabled, leaving the rest available for "normal" rotation.

- Make some changes to the civil service system. We already have hiring preferences for veterans, and greater preferences for disabled veterans. If you leave the service now, you can "buy" your service time, paying a percentage of what you earned on active duty, and have those years credited towards your civil service retirement. How about the guv'mint paying that amount for veterans disabled in combat?

- Take it a step further, and blend the two. We currently have AGR technician slots that are civil service, but which also require membership in the Guard or Reserve. How about converting civilian positions (within DoD) to "civilian vet" positions that could be filled by the disabled? Pay them as civil service, but let them earn military retirement credit as well.

Maybe the Marine Corps Logistics Base here at Barstow is unique, but there are a surprising number of civilians in the supply and maintenance facilities that everyone refers to as "Gunny", because their service record and experience earned that form of address. It's a very good thing to have that military experiemnce and ethos on the civilian side.

But beyond all that: we need to keep providing greater resources to the VA to build up their facilities and their ability to deal not only with the great increase in combat wounds and their life-long effects, but also the non-physical wounds. We haven't even begun to realize the challenges we have to deal with there. And there are still homeless, helpless Vietnam vets out on the street.

Not to make this political, but maybe these are questions we should be asking candidates in the upcoming election--and the next, and the next. Who has a platform to *truly* support the troops, and take care of those who have served and sacrificed? It's our obligation as citizens to do what's right here, but we have to influence those we elect in order to make it happen.


aecurtis Fezian Inactive Member14 Oct 2010 8:42 a.m. PST

"And eventually we will be creating bogus jobs to keep the disabled soldier employed."

Bogus jobs? Take a look around your local DMV office, or IRS service center, or state capital…

Frankly, that doesn't concern me. I would rather that we risk paying the cost of a "bogus" job, and keep a disabled veteran and his family off the streets, than the alternative.

And there's no reason to create "bogus" jobs. Again, not to get off into political territory, and it's a very different and potentially much greater issue, but this nation needs to be pumping resources into repairing and rebuilding and modernizing our infrastructure. That's a task that could put far more than just disabled veterans back to work. If only we had the will to do it.


Jovian1 Inactive Member14 Oct 2010 9:11 a.m. PST

If they wish to remain in the military, they should be given an option and provided with retraining to do the new duty, if it is a garrison duty, or not a combat duty, then so be it. However, with the new developments in prosthetics I can forsee the time when the military will be staffed with the "Starship Trooper" style sergeant who was completely disabled, but had prosthetics and campaigned with the rest of his troop, but took them all off for "recruiting duty."

If you think otherwise, then you haven't really studied some of the feats accomplished by veterans in WWII. I was reading the other night about the British pilot who was missing both legs, and he flew for the RAF in the Battle of Britain, attained enough kills to become an ace, and was eventually shot down and captured. Not exactly what you would think of when assessing a man who flew a WWII era plane with no legs.

I am all for keeping the experience in the military, retraining, and staffing non-combat positions with competently retrained veterans who can no longer do combat duty. I agree with Allen on this end – don't create bogus jobs – we have enough of them already. Do maintain the disabled veteran in the service and retain the training and experience which makes a fighting force better. Keep the veterans off the street and on active duty. I think that the lessons learned from Vietnam would apply here – and without getting political about it – I think we can all agree that we can and should do better for the veterans returning from the military actions of today.

CPT Jake Inactive Member14 Oct 2010 9:26 a.m. PST

How big do you allow the military to get? At what point do you decide you need new, whole, young kids to fight? At what point do you medically retire or chapter a guy out? When he hits retirement age?

What percentage of the active duty force do you think ought to be able to be permanently unable to deploy?

Sorry, unless you massively increase manpower end strengths there is just not room for every disabled trooper to stay on active duty. Then I'll ask you to define disabled. Can I chapter the Bleeped text out who I catch hot on coke or is his drug use a disability I need to tolerate? How about the Bleeped text baracks thief who gets his hot shot lawyer to declare his kleptomania a disability?

Now you'll jump in and say 'only combat related disabilites'. Well what about the poor guy who shatters his back on a training jump at Ft Bragg?

The military has ways to care for disabled vets. Maybe the VA needs to be re-worked. Active Duty should not be the place to keep folks not able to perform the Active Duty mission of thier branch and MOS. Should disabled vets get MORE preference for DoD civilian jobs? maybe. Should the DoD give preference to companies that hire disabled vets for contracts? maybe. My point is there are MANY things we can do that do not keep folks on active duty.

Top Gun Ace Inactive Member14 Oct 2010 10:28 a.m. PST

It used to be that only 5% 10% of the force was actually on the front lines, actually doing any fighting. That ratio is probably higher now, given the number of troops in the field, but there are still a huge number of non-combatants providing support for the troops in contact with the enemy.

The rest of the force is providing logistical, and/or other support.

Granted, the military is now smaller than it used to be, and we have a lot of people deployed in Afghanistan, as well as Iraq, and other theaters, so I'm sure they could find a slot, and make some sort of accommadations for him, and others.

They can push paper, answer phones, work a computer, run a forklift, drive a truck, etc.

DeanMoto Inactive Member14 Oct 2010 1:38 p.m. PST

Here's a link to FAQs on the topic. There are detailed procedures (what a surprise, huh) on retention on Active Duty with disabilities, etc. Before I retired several years ago, I sat on a corps-leval Medical Eval Board – an early step in the process. Of course, everything already aired on this sensitive issue is valid and there are pros and cons, and of course dependent on case by case basis.

aecurtis Fezian Inactive Member14 Oct 2010 1:56 p.m. PST

Yep, but for the AW2 program, you have to have 15-20 years' service for retention. What about the bright young SSG whose vehicle took a mine hit, and who has lost mobility? Is he of less value as a trainer and leader because he has fewer years in service? Or how about the soldier on his first tour who is blinded by fragments of rubble? Do we thank him for his service and point--well, aim--him towards the street?

We've lost the concept of service, in my opinion. We don't require every citizen--or everyone who wishes to become a citizen--to serve the common good for a period of time. Instead, we have a volunteer military. When we ask young men and women to go where we send them and to risk not just death, but maiming and unbearable stress, we owe it to them to provide an alternate means of service, as well as a promise of a decent standard of living and outstanding care, if they become unable to perform the functions for which they enlisted.

Whatever your particular persuasion, I'm sure you can identify resources that are being spent in vast quantities on things much less important than this.


DeanMoto Inactive Member14 Oct 2010 2:16 p.m. PST


I know what you're saying; as you well know, some folks always fall by the wayside bigger problem than I could ever conceive a remedy for. However, there is medical retirement for some, and hopefully decent and long-term VA assistance/treatment. As well as other state, local, county outreach/assitance vet programs depending on where the vet resides. Here in WA State, it's getting a lot of focus (& funding support). Easier stated than realized, I know. Dean

aecurtis Fezian Inactive Member14 Oct 2010 2:57 p.m. PST

I know, Dean. I recently explained how we were getting by for the moment without medical insurance by means of drug companies' Rx assistance programs and in the missus' case, charitable diagnosis and treatment for what may be breast cancer (we'll know howe the biopsy turned out on Monday).

But I'll tell you, you have to be really vigorous and on the ball to even find out that help is out there, not to mention getting signed up and working through the process. Who's out there "scooping up" discharged vets and getting them all the help that there is? (I'm sure that there *are* many hundreds of hard-working volunteers that are doing exactly that, but where's the safety net?) We hear TMPers who are generally satisfied with their VA treatment overall, but you also hear their frustrations with how much time and effort it takes to get the system to work.

I would much prefer to have the safety net part of the military services--for them to take care of their own. You know, I know, we've all seen Snuffy who needs constant attention to take care of himself, or his family, or his quarters. He makes a decent soldier, but the military *is* his support system. You're putting him on the road to failure if you just medically retire him and send him a check.

As I look back and remember all the guys I knew who were medically retured… well, first of all, it was peacetime. These weren't guys who had traumatic injury or stress disorders to deal with. In every case that I recall, they were going back to a supportive family and community, and had work (usually a family business) lined up.

With these recent conflicts, we have so many *more* cases to deal with, and they're not cases where the individual has had years of bad knees or a bad back to get used to the idea of separation and prepare for it. These are in many cases kids that are on the battlefield one day, and the next (or within a few) are in Walter Reed with a shattered future. Or worse, ETS uninjured, but with nobody but their family to help them with their demons.

OK, I've got to step back from this thread. It's just bringing up too much stuff. It's getting close to Thanksgiving again, and that's when my cousin's son took his own life after two tours in Iraq.

Talk to you later,


Jay Arnold Inactive Member14 Oct 2010 3:16 p.m. PST

Sorry, unless you massively increase manpower end strengths there is just not room for every disabled trooper to stay on active duty.

Speaking only for myself, I don't think every recently disabled vet wants to stay on active duty. Neither do I think every recently disabled vet should be allowed to stay on active duty.

I think that most of us are of a similar mind and our opinions are off by only a couple of degrees. Without going into the detail Allen expressed, I want to see Soldiers receive the care they deserve and provided opportunities otherwise closed to non-disabled vets.

They stepped up when their country called (and their adopted country in some cases). At the very least, their country can step when they need it.

CPT Jake Inactive Member14 Oct 2010 3:29 p.m. PST

"I want to see Soldiers receive the care they deserve and provided opportunities otherwise closed to non-disabled vets."

Amen Brother. I'll even be generous and add Marines, Sailors and heck, even Airmen to the sentiment.

(the last was meant as good natured interservice humor for all you that don't get it)

galvinm Inactive Member14 Oct 2010 5:38 p.m. PST

AMEN, brother.

Thanks to all who serve.

Buff Orpington Inactive Member15 Oct 2010 4:53 a.m. PST

I'll go with that from this side of the pond.
To my fellow Brits, it's Poppy time again. Please put a couple of pounds extra in the tin this year, the RBL will need to held many hundreds of ex service personnel and their families for a long time, do your bit.

Canuckistan Commander Inactive Member01 Oct 2011 7:28 p.m. PST

A one legged Infantry Captain ran the unit 10km run the other day. He was 7th of 2356 unit members, inclduing me.

solosam31 Dec 2013 12:03 p.m. PST

I have no problem keeping disabled vets. Right now my installation has Soldiers and even some junior Officers doing menial tasks like issuing post decals for cars. They aren't getting any training or experience that would actually help them when they have to lead troops one day… except for mastering the ability to shut up and color.

Do Soldiers have to participate in running the garrison? Sure. Everybody needs to pitch in sometimes. But last month I had to drop twenty Soldiers from a weeklong training event so that they could march about in somebody's retirement ceremony. LAME!

If retaining disabled vets keeps them gainfully employed, allows them to participate in running the garrison, and frees up able-bodied Soldiers for training and deployment, I have no problem with it.

Old Slow Trot Inactive Member02 May 2014 6:43 a.m. PST

Something like a modern Veteran Reserve Corps ,like what the Union Army had during the ACW.

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