There was nothing dramatic about how Spc. Cristapher Zuetlau’s career in the Army came to an end: he stepped in a hole. But the damage to the tank crewman’s wrenched back was so brutal he can barely walk.
The Army agreed he was no longer fit to serve, but in doing so determined his disability was not severe enough to warrant long-term care by the military. That turned his health care over to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which left him with no retirement benefits and cut off his family from government health care.
Thousands of similar stories caused veterans advocates to protest that the military was manipulating disability ratings to save money, and Congress last year ordered the Pentagon to accept appeals from wounded and injured troops.
So far, officials have yet to examine a single case.