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Veterans Struggle for Adequate Disability Compensation

U.S. soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan receive disability compensation based on the extent of their injuries and other factors. The NewsHour reports on how the military determines the amount injured veterans receive and efforts to improve the process.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Next, getting disability payments for men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. NewsHour correspondent Betty Ann Bowser has our story.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER, NewsHour Correspondent:

    The combat injuries that Sergeant Daniel Webb suffered as an infantryman in Iraq have brought him to a pain management specialist at Colorado Springs Memorial Hospital.

  • FORMER SGT. DANIEL WEBB, U.S. Army:

    All I know is, we was on a night mission. We was walking. One minute, I'm standing; the next minute, I'm on the ground.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    Webb fell in a hole that night. He was given pain medication and continued his mission, but one week later, on another night mission, a wall fell on him. After that, his pain became severe.

  • DANIEL WEBB:

    It got to the point where I just couldn't take it anymore. I felt like I couldn't really walk, could hardly move.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    An MRI showed three herniated discs, L3, -4 and -5. Doctors told Webb he was not a candidate for spinal fusion, so instead they implanted a morphine pump to help ease the severe chronic pain.

  • DOCTOR:

    The catheter actually is tunneled under the skin and connected here to the pump — and go ahead and roll back over, Dan — to the pump, so that the medicine then is pumped through the pump, through the catheter, to where the nerves come off his spinal cord.

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