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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

McCain Unfit Due To Military Disability?

Ralph Vartabedian of the LA Times asked the question yesterday, is John McCain fit to be Commander in Chief, since he receives a 100% VA disability payment each month. He also asks, if McCain can campaign vigorously, and hiked the Grand Canyon, why does he get it?

They are both good questions, that, had Ralph bothered to check with a VA disability counselor, instead of a Pentagon Tax Advisor for his story, he could have found the answers to.

Here's the short answers, yes, he's fit to be Commander in Chief, and he earned the disability. Maybe Ralph should spend a few years at a POW camp and see if he'd like some compensation.

For those who don't know, and haven't navigated the VA system (navigating Puget Sound blindfolded is easier), McCain's disability payments are based on a rather complex system that rates injuries, illness, and other problems incurred while on active duty.

For instance, my TJM, which was at least partially caused by a collision between my jaw and a hydraulic door closer, gets me 10%, my peptic ulcer gets me another 10%. My back, knees, and shoulders are all rated as 0% disabilities, but because they were rated, I can have them treated by the VA should I chose.

McCain suffered a lot of injuries while a POW, each of them, and their severity, was rated, and then the total of the ratings added up. My guess is if they could go over 100% he probably would have been given closer to 140-150% rating. But the rules say that 100% is as high as you can go.

Because McCain's injuries were due to combat related causes, there are additions to the formula. Just because you receive a 100% disability payment, it doesn't mean you are 100% disabled. Again, it's an additive formula, which is where the confusion seems to set in with Mr. Vartabedian. I'll reiterate, he should have sought the guidance of the VA on getting this explained to him, instead of assuming things.

As for why McCain's money is tax free (as is my disability payment each month), that's a question for Congress, who passed the laws making it so. I would guess, since I don't remember when they passed those laws, that it had to do with vets being mangled by war, not being able to work, and getting stories written about them in the LA Times and other papers, about how we mistreated them.

Wait, they are writing those stories now about how we don't take care of the current crop of war vets well enough. So, Ralph, should we not give McCain his disability, but make sure someone else gets payments? How would that work? Maybe a board of writers and editorialists could make the decision on who's qualified?

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