Appalling treatment of our veterans…by the Defense Department, no less

UPDATE: All of this going on while the Government Accountability Office reports that the Pentagon has “lost” $19 billion worth of equipment in Iraq. 

The Pentagon cannot fully account for $19.2 billion worth of equipment provided to Iraqi security forces, government auditors said Tuesday.

The finding by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, comes a few days after the Pentagon acknowledged that the U.S. and its allies have delivered a little more than a third of the equipment in the pipeline for the Iraqi Army and less than half of what is destined for the Iraqi police.

Baghdad officials have long complained that the lack of equipment has made it difficult to train and equip Iraqi forces.

Since the program’s beginning, the GAO found, consistent records confirming the date of issue, what type of equipment was received, and by what Iraqi unit were not kept. Before December 2005, no centralized records were kept. While the situation started improving in 2006, problems still exist, the GAO said.   more… 

Whose credit report gets hit with that loss? 

********************************************** 

H/T to Hallerin Hilton Hill on WNOX news talk radio. 

Kirstin Cole at WCBS had the story that prompted Hallerin’s segment this morning.

Servicemen and women who made huge sacrifices fighting in the war and now paying yet another price, even after coming home.One soldier in particular is currently battling against a new “debt of service.”

Brian Rodriguez is a fighter, an honorably discharged soldier who’d been deployed in Iraq.

“I was a combat engineer,” Rodriguez said. “We deal with land mines, explosives.”

He fought for his nation, only to return to his homeland and wage a fresh battle.

Former Army Specialist Rodriguez started getting bills for $700 for lost or damaged government property this summer. Although he was discharged some four years ago, bills recently arrived demanding payment, but giving no details on what or why — nor do they offer a way to dispute the charges.

“For doing my job you’re going to bill me?” Rodriguez said.

And he’s not alone. A 2006 government report found more than 1,000 soldiers being billed a total of $1.5 million. And while fighting overseas put their lives on the line, this battle on paper could cost them their future by ruining their credit. Rodriguez will be reported to credit agencies next month. more…

It would appear that our Department of Defense is seeking damages against our military personnel, that have returned from overseas, for supposed lost or damaged property.  One of the callers on WNOX shared his story of having been injured in the Iraq Theater and having to be medically evacuated.  He spent a year after that at Walter Reed.  When he looked at his paycheck stub one day, they had deducted $500 for damaged equipment.

What was the equipment damaged?  Do you really want to know?  It was his uniform and such that the medics had to cut off of him in the field to get at his wounds.

Is this an isolated incident.  Unfortunately, no.

KUTV has an article about Brian Rodriguez.

Then, there is this story from about 1 1/2 years ago….

A former U.S. soldier injured in Iraq says he was forced to pay $700 for a blood-soaked Kevlar vest that was destroyed after medics removed it to treat shrapnel wounds to his right arm.

First Lt. William “Eddie” Rebrook IV, 25, of Charleston had to leave the Army because of his injuries. But before he could be discharged last week, he had to scrounge up cash from his buddies to pay for the body armor or face not being discharged for months — all because a supply officer failed to document that the vest had been destroyed more than a year ago as a biohazard.

“I last saw the (body armor) when it was pulled off my bleeding body while I was being evacuated in a helicopter,” Rebrook told The Charleston Gazette for Tuesday’s edition. “They took it off me and burned it.”  more…

Record Online has a story from about  2 1/2 years ago from a soldier that lost his arm in service and is told he owes $2,000.

Some of these stories are over a couple of years old.  Did I miss these stories before or are they just now coming to light? 

I just can’t get my mind around an issue like this.  How can we be charging our honorably discharged military personnel for equipment damaged in a theater of war?  If they don’t pay, it will be turned over to a credit bureau?  Good grief!

This just seems like such a slap in the face to people that have served our country and laid their lives on the line.

I hope Lt. Col. Patrick, BlackFive and some of the other milbloggers weigh in on this topic.  I would really like to get their insight on it.

Others posting on this topic: Jyte, Jeff Hoard

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