Morale: Less Abuse For The Wounded And Overworked


November 1, 2008: The U.S. Department of Defense has made another change in how it handles special pay for those who have been wounded in combat. In this case, troops who are diagnosed with a combat related injury after they return from the combat zone, will receive the combat pay ($430 or more per month) while they are treated (for up to a year, or more).

Earlier, the Department of Defense had changed the rules so that wounded personnel kept receiving their combat pay if they were returned to the United States for treatment. Before that, the combat pay was removed as soon as you left the combat zone.

Over the last few years, the Department of Defense has been making a lot of similar changes, so that troops are not, in effect, penalized for being in combat or getting wounded. For example, while U.S. military personnel are given 30 days of vacation ("leave" in milspeak) a year, if they don't have a chance to take off (because they are in combat, or some other vital assignment), they can only accrue 60 days before they lose it. Actually, troops would get paid (at their pay rate) for the untaken vacation time (at the end of their current contract). But it's not the same as getting some down time when you really need it. That's really a case of "no good deed goes unpunished." Not only were the most overworked (and often most valuable) troops not able to take vacations for a long time, they were then penalized by losing vacation time.

But recently, a new rule allows overworked troops to accrue up to 120 days of leave, before they start to risk losing it. Moreover, if accrued days go over 120, up to 30 more days can be cashed in later in some circumstances (as long as the owner is still in the service). The military ran the numbers and found that no one (well, very few) troops accrue a hundred days. This extension is only available to those spending time in a combat zone. Basically, what the military wants to do is avoid screwing those troops who go the extra mile, and take no leave for years on end. The brass also want to avoid appearing to reward such sacrifice by screwing the trooper out of their unused leave time.



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