Today’s Stars and Stripes, the Defense Department’s daily newspaper distributed overseas to U.S. military personnel, has an article which describes two new initiatives that will assist soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first is a call center which will serve veterans who suffer severe physical or mental wounds from war. If a severely injured veteran has hit a roadblock with finances, education, job assistance, counseling or child care, they should call the center. The center’s phone number is (888) 774-1361.

The second initiative was what I found most encouraging. A traumatic injury rider has been added to each Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance policy which will provide cash payments, of $25,000 to $100,000, to soldiers who suffer a traumatic injury while serving.

Severely injured warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan also will get cash payments, of $25,000 to $100,000, under a rider to Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance approved as part of the Emergency Supplemental Wartime Appropriations Act signed May 11.

The law directs the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to establish the traumatic injury rider by Dec. 1, and to make payments retroactive to Oct. 7, 2001, the start of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Payments will vary based on severity of injuries.

Three soldiers wounded in Iraq proposed the traumatic injury rider to Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, who in turn, introduced it as an amendment to the wartime supplemental. SGLI premiums will be increased by $1 a month to pay for it.

Defense and VA officials are preparing regulations. Qualifying injuries will include loss of limbs, speech or hearing, severe burns, blindness, traumatic brain injuries or coma. Defense and VA officials are discussing how to set the size of payments. Psychological impairments are not covered.

You can read the Stars and Stripes article here.