By Rick Maze, NavyTimes staff writer, March 10, 2005
Forwarded by YNCS Don Harribine, USN (Ret)

A new insurance program created at the urging of three injured Iraq war veterans has already helped 1,543 people, according to the lawmaker who helped push the plan through Congress.

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman who helped create the new traumatic injury insurance program, said payments ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 have gone to “young men and women with amputations, severe burns, total blindness, total deafness, paralysis and a host of other disabilities sustained in defense of America.”

The payments, he said, “will help close the gap in financial help these heroes need during their convalescence.” Traumatic injury insurance, which Craig calls “wounded warrior insurance,” was first proposed by three Army veterans injured in the Iraq war: Staff Sgts. Health Calhoun and Ryan Kelly and Sgt. Jeremy Feldbusch. “They asked that I author legislation to create a new insurance benefit for traumatic injuries such as theirs. Not for them, mind you.

They were looking ahead on behalf of their comrades still in combat,” Craig said. He was “moved by their passion and motivated by their dedication.”

Under the program passed by Congress, military personnel who received traumatic injuries from Oct. 7, 2001 through Nov. 30, 2005, while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan are eligible for payments, based on the injury. After Dec. 1, 2005, the insurance covers all traumatic injuries, not just those in a combat zone.