Harkin Proposal to Address Pay Problems for Wounded US Military Wins Committee Approval

Washington, D.C. — Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today praised committee approval of his proposal requiring a formal audit of Department of Defense (DOD) pay records to account for pay problems for wounded US Servicemen and women.  Thousands of service members wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan have reported problems receiving the pay and benefits they are entitled to by law. The Harkin proposal will be included in the Supplemental Appropriations measure being considered by the Senate Appropriations committee today.  

“Wounded soldiers are retuning to home to heal, and instead they are worrying about their family’s financial well-being because of bureaucratic error and government red tape,” Harkin said.  “This situation is completely unacceptable.  After all these brave men and women have sacrificed, we are duty-bound to make sure they get what they are entitled to.  I am pleased that the Senate Appropriations Committee has chosen to include my proposal and I hope it will help us get to the bottom of this situation immediately.”

Despite repeated DOD claims that the problems are being addressed, thousands of service members continue to experience pay problems when they return from combat zones.  In fact, an internal Army audit released last year, found that 82 percent of wounded soldiers evacuated from Iraq for inpatient care had significant pay problems as a result of government error.  The Harkin proposal will increase accountability by requiring the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress with a formal accounting of these errors within 120 days.  

The Department of Defense reports as of January 2006 that16,420 members of the US military have been wounded in Iraq—more than 7,000 of those sustaining serious injuries.  An additional 677 service members were wounded in Afghanistan by the same date, 402 of them seriously.