Thursday, September 11, 2003

Support the Troops

I cannot imagine the anger this kind of thing must cause:

WASHINGTON - After a grenade exploded inside his Humvee in Iraq, Marine Staff Sgt. Bill Murwin was treated at a military hospital in Germany and spent four weeks at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Part of his left foot was amputated.

His medical care was free, but the government billed him $243 for the food.

Then, just three days after he received his first bill for the hospital food in Germany, he got a stern letter saying the bill was overdue. It warned that his account would be referred to a collection agency.

Murwin, like thousands of other military personnel hospitalized every year, is expected to reimburse the government $8.10 per day for food. That's standard procedure because of a law Congress passed in 1981. But it has angered many military families over the years.

This law dates from 1981, so (listen up trolls!) I'm not blaming this one on Bush.

UPDATE: reader r writes in:

All officers and those enlisted soldiers authorized to mess seperately are paid an allowance called "seperate rations." If you draw seperate rations and eat in the mess hall, you must pay for that meal. If you're in the hospital, the cost of each meal you consume while hospitalized is deducted from your monthly paycheck. Officers pay an additional surcharge in addition to the cost of the meal.

In April 1997 my Humvee went over a mine in Bosnia. My driver broke her jaw and lost most of her front teeth when she impacted the steering wheel. I broke my neck. The policy in effect at the time waived meal costs for soldiers hospitalized as a result of injuries sustained while deployed.

Of course the Clinton administration probably had to be much more careful about negative news stories than this administration so they may have modified the policy just to avoid bad press. I didn't pay much attention to politics at the time.

But they still made me pay the surcharge.