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Karen Kaplan’s August 18, Los Angeles Times article, U.S. military practices genetic discrimination in denying benefits, tells how the U.S. Military denies disability benefits to both active and veteran military personnel.

The problem began in 1999, when the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) decided that soldiers with a genetic predisposition for a disease will be denied benefits for that disease until they have served for a minimum of 8-years. The reasoning proffered is to discourage individuals with a probability of developing a congenital and/or hereditary condition from joining the services in order to receive medical and disability benefits when (and if) the disease develops.

Although someone might have a predisposition for an illness it is not always caused by genetic factors. For example, there is a genetic mutation carried in about 5% of Caucasians for developing blood clots, but individuals outside that genetic group can also develop blood clots in their legs (thrombophlebitis) after sitting for long periods. That is the main reason physicians recommend that you get up and stretch during long plane flights.

The situation has become so treacherous that some Army physicians recommend that soldiers refuse any and all genetic tests. In case the soldier thinks that he can by-pass the system by having a genetic test done through a civilian physician, they could easily find themselves in serious trouble. Turns out that a private genetic test violates military code and they could be court-martialed.

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  • Fran C. January 9, 2015, 3:52 pm

    I just finished reading the article with regards to the military denying benefits based on genetics. It really struck a chord with me as my sister-in-law (Tina Bee) is drastically trying to get my brother (Ronald Bee) designated 100% disabled. He may be very disabled at this time, however I believe that the majority of his disability is not a result of his time in the service. Thus, I am very frustrated with my sister-in-law’s intentions. There are way too many men and women who served and are serving our country that need our government’s disability money. I do not believe my brother needs any more than he already receives. Basically, I truly believe he is not 100% disabled from his time in the service.

    My brother is at this time dealing with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. He is at the VA hospital in Seattle, Washington recovering from a bone marrow transplant on 12/16/14. He currently is not doing well with side effects from the transplant. My brother was told from the beginning that he was not a good candidate for the transplant because he is very overweight and has diabetes.
    He claims the diabetes is from his stint in Viet Nam, but he was only diagnosed with it within the last decade, more likely do to the fact that he has been 200-250 pounds over weight for decades. In addition, our mother had sugar, so there is a propensity to it genetically.

    In addition, as far as the leukemia, our mother died from a form of leukemia and our sister currently is under a constant observation of her blood as she has shown abnormal pre-leukemia cells through her blood tests for years. She was never in the service.

    In conclusion, I am writing this because I felt compelled to do so. I love my brother, but truly believe that any additional disability money should be going to those who rightly earned it through their service to our country.
    Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this.