Once again, the U.S. Army shot
itself in the foot by doing the right thing, then screwing it up. In this case,
a soldier, one of three brothers, was released early from his enlistment
because of the 60 year old "sole survivor" rule. This regulation allows for the
sole survivor of a group of siblings to be released from service. In this case
Specialist Jason Hubbard had two other brothers killed (one by a roadside bomb,
the other in a helicopter crash), and he decided to take advantage of the sole
survivor rule. But another rule, introduced after the sole survivor rule,
prohibited soldiers who got out before their enlistment was up, from receiving
veterans health and education benefits. Last year, the army was embarrassed to
find they were doing the same thing to troops who were discharged early because
of severe wounds that prevented further service. No one bothered to check if
any other conditions would trigger such an unpleasant situation.
is now changing the rules to preserve the benefits of wounded and sole survivor
troops who get out before their enlistment contract has been completed. The new
law will be retroactive to September 11, 2001. The movie "Saving Private Ryan"
was all about getting a sole surviving son out of the combat zone. But during
the subsequent 64 years, a new set of laws were passed to cover military
service and benefits, creating a situation where private Ryan might think twice
about getting saved.