Thursday, April 17, 2008

Disabled vet recalled for duty in Iraq

The Buffalo, N.Y., news media is abuzz this week because a local University of Buffalo communications student, who left the military in 2004 with a partial disability due to hearing loss and a knee injury, has been recalled for duty in Iraq. He sustained his injuries while serving in Afghanistan.

The Buffalo News reports that in 2004 James Raymond "was given an honorable discharge and the Department of Veterans Affairs determined that he was 10 percent disabled, enabling him to receive $120 a month for the rest of his life.

"Raymond is expected to report for training May 18 at Fort Benning, Ga., where he would undergo a medical and mental evaluation. Five weeks later, if he is determined to be fit to return to duty, he will be deployed to Fort Dix, N.J., where he would join up with a Reserve unit there. In September, the unit is expected to be sent to Iraq."

“Why am I, as a disabled vet, to be called up?” Raymond asked. “Why isn’t there a process around this to get me out of having to go to Fort Benning and drop my life?”

A spokesman for Disabled Veterans of America, told The Buffalo News that other disabled vets have been called back to duty as well.

“It all depends on if they were disabled enough to be considered undeployable,” David Autrey said.

WKBW-TV also reported Raymond's story, and The University of Buffalo student newspaper, The Spectrum, editorialized about the unfairness of the situation to their fellow student.