The Mirror has a story about an infantry soldier who was medically discharged from the Army for service-induced hearing loss. He has received other benefits to which he was entitled, but now his application for compensation under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme has been refused by the SPVA - because the service-induced hearing loss is assessed at less than 20%.
When the 20% threshold was imposed by the Ministry of Defence in the 1990's under the old War Pensions scheme, the justification was that compensation should be targeted more at those with the most serious injuries. The new Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS), for injuries on or after 6 April 2005, is thankfully more generous than the old scheme but the 20% hearing loss theshold remains.
The ruling remains controversial, because 20% hearing loss is enough to get in the way of your work, domestic and social activities on every single day of life.
But actually discharging a soldier for service-induced hearing loss, and then dismissing his injury claim as in effect trivial, is straight from the pages of Catch-22. It's time to have another look at this ruling.
From the Mirror story:
Coldstream Guards drummer and machine gunner Jamie Geary says he feels betrayed.
And he fears he is the first in a new wave of soldiers with minor health problems who are being axed as the Forces try to save cash amid Government defence cuts...
The Iraq and Northern Ireland veteran, now scraping by on benefits with his wife and two children, said a routine test in 2005 showed his hearing had been slightly affected by exposure to noise from training ground explosions and his drumming.
But Jamie was still cleared to go on a seven-month tour in Basra, Iraq, where his base was subjected to several mortar attacks.
In 2007 another ear test confirmed his hearing had deteriorated and the specialist said it would get worse over time.
After that, Jamie's 11-year Army career began to go downhill.
In 2009 he was preparing for frontline duty in Afghanistan when he was told he wasn't fit to go and given a desk job instead. He desperately tried to retrain as a dog handler and then a military guard... but his attempts proved fruitless.
Then last November he was called before a military board and told he was being medically discharged because new tests showed his hearing loss was between 6 and 14 per cent.
To add insult to injury, Jamie then discovered compensation was only given for 20 per cent loss of hearing and above...
"On the one hand the Army say I am not well enough to work," says Jamie. "Yet on the other they are saying I am not unwell enough to get compensation. It's wrong.
- Full story by Nick Owens, Sunday Mirror - Soldier booted out of the Army because he lost "6% of his hearing" but can't get compensation
- Also from Sunday Mirror - Britain's soldiers face morale crisis over jobs, pay and housing - this is another media story based on the CGS briefing team report