Attrition: November 2, 2004


: The U.S. Department of Defense has officially ended its long time policy of forcibly discharging troops with disabling injuries. In the past, the policy was to grant an honorable discharge, a pension (a percentage of the soldiers pay, at the time, commensurate with the degree of disability) and a transfer to the Veterans Administration (who would deal with further rehabilitation and any health problems.) Many such veterans did return to work for the Department of Defense, but as civilians. Disabled veterans were always given preference in such jobs, and sometimes the veteran ended up doing the same job. But dramatic advances in medicine, and artificial limbs and similar devices, have made it possible, and more practical, to keep many of the disabled soldiers in uniform. While many disabled troops still take the pension and leave, most want to stay.