After two tours of combat duty and wounds “that left him shattered,” Army medic Shawn Aiken is struggling to make ends meet–to the point of pawning “jewelry, games, an iPhone, and even the medic bag [he] used when saving lives in Afghanistan.”
According to Reuters, Aiken’s war-related injuries include “traumatic brain injury, severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), abnormal eye movements due to nerve damage, chronic pain, and a hip injury.” Yet his pay dwindled from the $3,300 a month in September 2012 to a lousy $117.99 in December 2012.
These drastic cuts came while Aiken, his fiancee, and two children were living off base, and they resulted in Aiken getting “an Army Emergency Relief Loan” to cover his family’s expenses. “At Christmas, Operation Santa Claus provided the family with presents–one for each child, per the charity’s rules.”
When Aiken realized the Defense Department was taking back money they thought he owed them, he began hobbling “from office to office” to plead his case. And because of his brain injuries, he often missed appointments and opportunities to make his case.
In the end the Defense Department realized they had taken Aiken’s money without cause–“accounting and other errors” had led to it.
The agency which pays our 2.7 million soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines consists of a 12,000 person workforce in Indianapolis, Indiana. Sequester cuts to their agency are hurting soldiers like Aiken.
President Obama signed sequester into law on August 2, 2011.
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