Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development (JRRD)

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Volume 47 Number 4, 2010
   Pages 403 — 408

Abstract —  Department of Veterans Affairs compensation and medical care benefits accorded to veterans with major limb loss

Charles Maynard, PhD;1 Brad Flohr;2 Tony A. Guagliardo, MS;3 Chris H. Martin, MA;3 Lynne V. McFarland, PhD;1 Jonathan D. Pruden, MPS;4 Gayle E. Reiber, MPH, PhD1*

1Health Services Research and Development, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, WA; 2VA, Veterans Benefits Administration, Central Office, Washington, DC; 3VA, Veterans Health Administration, Central Office, Washington, DC; 4Wounded Warrior Project, Gainesville, FL

Abstract — Veterans injured in theaters of combat operations are eligible for benefits, including medical care and compensation. This article describes veterans with service-connected disability for major lower- and/or upper-limb loss resulting from combat-field-associated injuries sustained in the Vietnam war, Operation Desert Shield/Operation Desert Storm, and Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF). Using the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Compensation and Pension Mini-Master file, we identified 2,690 veterans who in August 2007 received compensation for loss of one or more limbs. More than 97% sustained their injuries in Vietnam; most were young men who served in the U.S. Army or Marine Corps. All but 5% had at least 50% combined service-connected disability and nearly half had a 100% rating. In addition to limb loss, one of the most prevalent compensable conditions was posttraumatic stress disorder, present in 46% of OIF/OEF and 20% of Vietnam veterans. Of these veterans, 82% visited VA outpatient clinics in 2007, although only 4% were hospitalized. A special obligation exists to those who have sustained serious injuries related to combat; this responsibility extends for the life of the servicemember and beyond to his or her spouse and dependents.

Key words: amputation, benefits, combat, limb loss, OIF/OEF, posttraumatic stress disorder, service-connected disability, VA, veterans, Vietnam war.

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Last Reviewed or Updated  Tuesday, June 15, 2010 10:35 AM

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