Insurance Program Assists Severely Injured Servicemembers

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2006 - Troops appreciate a congressionally legislated insurance program that provides financial aid to badly wounded servicemembers, a senior DoD official told a Senate committee here yesterday.

Congress established the Traumatic Servicemembers Group Life Insurance program in 2005 in response to the experiences of some former and current military members who found themselves financially strapped after they suffered severe injuries during the war against terrorism. Coverage applies to active-duty and reserve-component members.

"The program is working very well, and the Department of Defense is a satisfied customer," Michael Dominguez, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

Beginning Dec. 1, 2005, every servicemember who has Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance automatically began receiving TSGLI coverage, Dominguez said. The TSGLI benefit is retroactive to military members who experienced severe financial losses due to traumatic injury suffered between Oct. 7, 2001, and Nov. 30, 2005.

TSGLI coverage will pay a benefit of between $25,000 and $100,000, depending on the loss directly resulting from the traumatic injury, according to information on the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site. The VA is a co-administrator of the insurance program.

Within DoD, "a total of 2,261 retroactive claims have been approved as of Aug. 25, 2006," Dominguez reported, noting that 403 claims have been paid as of late August 2006.

The committee also heard testimony from Army Sgt. John Keith, a Virginia resident, who lost his left leg and suffered other severe injuries in an explosion in Iraq. Keith was one of the first people to receive a TSGLI payment. He said he was able to replenish his savings, pay off most of his debts and buy his wife a van after receiving his payment.

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