Are War injuries crimes?


Senior member
Jan 18, 2000

I'll cut straight to the chase (Its Bush's fault and he is a criminal)

Are war injuries crimes?

Legal issues are thorny as wounded soldier tries to tap state victims fund

09:39 PM CST on Monday, March 1, 2004

By SCOTT FARWELL / The Dallas Morning News

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? An Army reservist from Abilene, whose right leg was mangled and later amputated after an enemy ambush in Iraq, is the nation's first soldier seeking compensation for his injury under a state program established to help crime victims.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Kelly, 23, says he was a victim of terrorism on July 14, 2003, when a hidden roadside artillery shell detonated near Baghdad, crippling his military vehicle and blowing off most of his right leg below the knee.

He filed a $150,000 lawsuit last month against the state of Texas after twice being denied a grant from the state's Crime Victims Compensation Fund, which is designed to pay uncovered medical expenses for victims of crime ? including those injured or killed in overseas terrorism.

A lawyer for the Texas attorney general said in court papers that the civilian paramedic and Mesquite Poteet High School grad is a casualty of war, not a crime victim.

Sgt. Kelly faces long odds in court. He plans to represent himself, and the case involves untested legal arguments.

The case, which could be heard next month by a Taylor County district court judge, is expected to pivot on vexing legal questions, as well as politics and semantics: When did the war in Iraq begin and end? Who is a terrorist? Is the U.S. government taking adequate care of its wounded soldiers? If not, why not? And, who pays?

If Sgt. Kelly wins, victims rights advocates say similar claims from the more than 2,700 service members injured in Iraq could drain ? and possibly bankrupt ? funds intended for victims of rape, domestic violence and murder nationwide.

Labeled self-defense
Assistant Attorney General Rita Baranowski rejected the Army reservist's application in a Jan. 9 letter: The attack "is most adequately construed not as an act of international terrorism, but rather as an act of self defense," she wrote. "Acts of self defense, of course, are not criminal ..."

Sgt. Kelly trembled as he recited passages from the assistant attorney general's letter two weeks ago in his room at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

"It's hurtful that they'd say somehow somebody trying to kill a U.S. soldier is justified," he said.

He said President Bush signaled a policy change when he declared "major combat operations in Iraq have ended" on May 1, 2003.

Since then, American commanders have been operating under MOOTW, or Military Operations Other Than War.

Three men in civilian clothes were arrested minutes after the attack on Sgt. Kelly's military convoy last summer.

"Clearly, this is criminal terrorism," said Larry Kelly, a New York lawyer who is Sgt. Kelly's uncle and legal adviser. "If this happened in Dallas, it would be a criminal act. It would be terrorism. And if it happens to an American in Iraq, it's an act of terrorism."

Chuck Bartles, 26, a soldier at Walter Reed whose right arm was amputated after an ambush in Iraq, has applied for crime victim assistance in his home state of South Dakota. An Alabama veteran with a severe foot injury, Larry Gill, mailed his form last week.

Texas established the crime victims fund in 1979. The Legislature last modified it in 1997, when coverage of international acts of terrorism was added.

"These funds were set up to cover ... crimes we see every day in Texas and other states," said Dan Eddy, director of the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards. "Certainly, the argument [for veteran benefits] can be made, and it's an interesting legal question ... but did the Texas Legislature think it would potentially be covering hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops in a hostile zone?"

Views at the Capitol
Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, who sponsored the 1997 amendment, said that the Legislature did not consider such claims but that maybe it should revisit the issue.

"It's something I don't think most of us who work with crime victims groups have considered," said Mr. Whitmire, an attorney and chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. "But certainly ... this young man deserves our time. We'll look at it, and there may be an opportunity there."

Rep. Bob Hunter, R-Abilene, an 18-year member of the state Legislature, said injured military personnel "should be compensated by the federal government, not the state of Texas."

The Patriot Act ? which gave law enforcement new surveillance powers after the Sept. 11 attacks ? also relieved states of responsibility for compensating U.S. citizens injured in international terrorism, but Texas did not amend its law to exclude the benefit.

Officials from the Department of Justice did not immediately answer questions from The Dallas Morning News about whether injured veterans might qualify for funds under terrorism claims. After three days of consideration, officials responded in writing and only on the condition of anonymity. They said the agency is revising policies that guide victims' compensation claims.

Diane Clements, president of Justice For All, a Houston-based group that assists crime victims, said Sgt. Kelly was trying to manipulate the system.

"He joined the Army, understanding the risks," she said. "That's a lot different from a person who just happens to be the clerk at a 7-Eleven and takes a .357
  • in the chest."

    Injured soldiers' benefits
    Sgt. Kelly, like every other veteran injured in Iraq, will be eligible for lifetime medical care for his injury from the Department of Veterans Affairs. If he accepts a medical retirement from the Army, he probably will get a monthly disability payment he estimates will be between $600 and $800.

    Wounded soldiers are eligible for comprehensive educational benefits from the VA, payments to retrofit homes and cars for disabilities, subsidized counseling services and money for transportation to and from doctor appointments.

    Even so, Steve Thomas, national spokesman for the American Legion, said too many veterans fall through the cracks.

    "This is something that should not be happening in our country," he said. "We don't have a resolution addressing the appropriateness of these applications ... but it does seem to suggest a degree of desperation, and this might need to be something as a nation we need to take a closer look at."



Platinum Member
Jan 31, 2003
Unfortunately, wounds suffered in line of duty are not covered by anything like what they want to be paid for. They were not civilians in the line of fire. They are acting in the capacity of their job description, which just happens to put them in harms way. They knew this when they signed up, so technically, their wounds were suffered by voluntarily placing themselves in harms way. The courts have seen this to be the case on more than one instance.
A Soldiers duty is to fight, and sometimes die for what they beleive in. If they didn't think about it before signing up, I feel sorry for them, but it was still their choice. Nobody forced them to sign anything.


Diamond Member
Aug 18, 2001
well, he's not gonna win what he wants..

here is a link to the Crime Victims' Compensation Fund.

you only get a max of $50,000 (so he's never gonna see $150,000)
you only get it after all other resources have been used up.
all his medical expenses are covered by the V.A. Medical system
he might obtain some payment for loss of wages, and other stuff..seems possible, but he isn't getting $150,000,
and the legal definitions of "crime" versus "combat" are going to adjudicated...has nothing to do with compassion or what is "right" or "wrong", it has to do with what the law actually says.

A terrible injury for such a young man. we wish him well in his recovery.