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America's fighters deserve better than this
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


May 09, 2006
Tuesday AM

You're a 25-year-old staff sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve who lost a leg to a roadside bomb in Iraq. Back home, just as you've learned to walk on your new artificial limb, you get a notice saying you owe Uncle Sam $2,231 in disputed pay. The snafu takes 18 months to resolve, but not before a bad credit report prevents you from getting a home loan.

That sad but true story is detailed in a new report by the Government Accountability Office, which found that hundreds of severely wounded war veterans continue to be hassled due to payroll errors or bogus debts because the Pentagon can't get its computerized pay system in order.

Talk about heaping insult on top of injury. We can't imagine shabbier treatment of men and women in uniform.

The basic problem is an outmoded computer system for tracking and paying personnel. Pay and duty records aren't integrated, leading to errors like excess combat pay that sometimes don't get noticed, much less corrected, for months.

Maybe the military wouldn't be the military without its frequent snafus, but the antiquated pay system is one tradition that could, and should, be fixed. It's no laughing matter.


Distributed to subscribers for publication by Scripps Howard News Service.

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