Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Another lie debunked 
There's been a story floating around that some commander told troops that they would not qualify for SGLI payments if they were killed in Iraq wearing Dragon Skin or some other unauthorized private purchase body armor.

It may be true that some commander was running his mouth off off the reservation, but the idea that unauthorized body armor would disqualify troops from SGLI was false on its face.

An SGLI contract is a private contract between a service member and an insurance company. A moment's thought makes it quite clear: No commander at any level can unilaterally alter the terms of that contract.

Unfortunately, too many reporters are undereducated and don't have a lick of common sense. I steered a couple of reporters off the story - or at least suggested they look deeply into the law of contracts before they went off half-cocked on the "Let's Embarrass Bush (LEB) Story du Jour."

At the very minimum, I suggested they source a little bit better, and talk to the insurance companies themselves before going with a story based on the hearsay of two yahoos who say they heard something from some captain.

I hope they took my advice.

Splash, out


You may want to check one possibility. If a soldier's death is found to be 'not in line of duty', I believe SGLI payoff can be withheld. If a soldier fails to wear body armor he's been ordered to wear and his death could have been prevented if he wore it, then it's possible a Line of Duty determination would be "No".

While this is a technical possibility, it's extremely unlikely that a commander would hack off on a "not in line of duty finding" for a soldier killed in combat. And if one were stupid enough to do so, a good lawyer could probably get a more reasonable outcome.
Here's this from a newsletter out of Ft. Bragg:

Line of Duty investigations are conducted to determine whether or not disease, injury, or death has occurred in the line of duty. What does this mean? It means that LOD investigations determine whether there is evidence of intentional or willful negligence that caused the disease, injury, or death. LOD investigations are required when disease, injury, or death occurs under unusual or doubtful circumstances.
Personnel who decide to drink and drive, or consume drugs and drive should be aware to the following information. This information is taken directly from AR 600-8-4.
“Injury or disease that results in incapacitation because of the abuse alcohol and other drugs is not in line of duty. It is due to misconduct.
Injury or disease that results in incapacitation because of the abuse of intoxicating liquor is not in line of duty. It is misconduct. While the mere drinking of alcoholic beverages is not misconduct, one who voluntarily becomes intoxicated is held to as high as a standard of conduct as one who is sober.
Injury caused by driving a vehicle when in an unfit condition, and the member knew or should have known about it, is not in line of duty. It is due to misconduct. …Unfitness to drive may have been caused by voluntary intoxication or use of drugs.
When an investigation determines that disease, injury, or death is not caused in the line of duty a soldier’s benefits may be revoked.

Link: http://www.bragg.army.mil/coscom/IG/Newsletters/02QTR4%20Newsletter.ppt

This would seem to disagree with the info at the link you provided. Should time allow, I'll look up the AR
I don't believe an LOD determination would have anything to do with it. The VA website linked above, if you scroll down, is very clear - the only reason the claim would not be paid is if you were guilty of treason, etc., or refused to wear the uniform prior to death.

The site also says that "claims are paid regardless of any question concerning body armor."

I think this is just another old soldier's tale, like "you can't shoot at people with a .50 cal.

You can. But you can't do it with hollow-points.
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The newsletter above may be referencing the death gratuity, etc. The military has no legal standing to alter the terms of the SGLI contract after the fact, except as noted by the specified exclusions, as the VA affirms.

In the insurance world, even outright suicide is often covered, except for a couple of years at the beginning of the policy.
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Jason is correct in noting that Major D is confusing the death gratuity with SGLI insurance. When you die in combat, your beneficiaries receive two payments - one from SGLI and one from the government. If you're in the military, and your personnel folk are doing their job, you'll have to resign those forms every so often and you'll discover that it's two different forms - one for each benefit. The government's death gratuity may require a LOD determination. SGLI doesn't.

I'm not sure when the death gratuity applies and when it doesn't, but SGLI is just life insurance: you die, your beneficiaries get paid -- regardless whether you were shot in a foxhole or chocked on your own vomit after drinking too much.
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