Missing war records blocking vets from disability benefits

By Stephanie Grimes | Posted - Nov 12th, 2012 @ 11:58am

SALT LAKE CITY — Some veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are having trouble getting disability benefits because of missing war records.

The problem of missing records have plagued the U>S. military since the Gulf War in 1990, according to NBC News. Field records documenting incidents have been prone to being disorganized and lost over the past two decades, and was especially a problem during the early years of the war in Iraq, according to an analysis by The Seattle Times and ProPublica.

The field records — after=action write-ups, intelligence reports, etc. — are important to veterans who are trying to claim disability benefits, because they provide proof the disability was incurred during the war. they are also important to military strategists trying to learn lessons from the way both wars were fought.

The U.S. military has taken steps to improve its record-keeping, putting emphasis on training soldiers on its importance, but there are still dozens of Army units with no or insufficient field records from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

In fact, the records are so bad that "very few" exist from Operation Enduring Freedom from between 2004 and 2007, according to a 2009 Army report.

Units deployed between 2003 and 2008 had similar problems producing field records.

In an email, Maj. Christopher Kasker, an Army spokesman, said, "The matter of records management is of great concern to the Army; it is an issue we have acknowledged and are working to correct and improve."

The matter of records management is of great concern to the Army.

–Maj. Christopher Kasker

In the meantime, the Department of Veterans Affairs has relaxed rules for requiring documentation prior to providing benefits for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, often allowing medical and personnel records to do the job.

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