From hero to zero – apparently

Giving the shirt off your back, an arm and a leg is apparently not enough for this country any longer – just ask Ben McBean who has given more than his fair share in support of his country when in February 2008 this 21-year old Royal Marine experienced a life changing event that will have an impact on him for the rest of his life.

After losing an arm and a leg and enduring major scarring and nerve damage he then had to suffer a slap to the face when he was awarded only £161,000 in compensation which is apparently half of the maximum possible payment of £285,000 – good grief, what does the man have to give up to qualify for the full amount?

Back home, his civilian counterpart in the MOD received £202,000 for a back injury apparently caused by lifting a printer while £217,000 was awarded to another civil servant suffering chronic fatigue syndrome (isn’t that what ATOS and the DWP call yuppy flu?) and depression and an RAF typist was awarded £484,000 for repetitive strain injury to her hand.

When Ben Parkinson, a Commando, was blown up by a mine in Afganistan and lost both legs, the use of one arm and the power of speech, suffered memory loss and severe fractures to his spine and pelvis and spent months in a coma, his original offer of compensation was £152,000.

27 year old Anthony Duncan, a corporal in the Light Dragoons, was offered £9,250 for a shattered femur and damaged muscles that will cause him problems for the rest of his life.

An appeal decided his condition was more complex and awarded him £46,000 and a life-long pension.

Marine McWilliams fractured his thigh during training and needed a steel pin to hold his bones together, he’ll experience difficulties for the rest of his life and his original award was £8,250 but was raised to £28,750 to “reflect his wider problems”.

Bob Ainsworth MP who was Armed Forces Minister from 2009 to 2010 himself ran up expenses of almost £6,000 as well as claims for £2,225 for a sofa and £1,000 for an Samsung LCD television; he also submitted invoices to claim £8,025 in July 2005 for renovation and remodelling work on his house.

In february 2007 he claimed £2,000 to repoint some brickwork as well as claiming for fencing costing £4,500.

Between May 2005 and April 2007 he claimed a total of £19,920 for renovations, repairs, furniture and electrical equipment as well as ensuring a regular monthly allowance for food of £400 – the maximum allowed not to mention monthly dry cleaning bills for £45.

Mr Ainsworth switched his designated second home at the end of 2007 to a London flat for which he claimed £1,208 a month for rent.

In 2007-2008 he claimed the second highest second home allowances of £23,083 which again was the maximum allowed under the so-called rules.

Between 2004 and 2008, Mr Ainsworth claimed a total of £80,147 for his second home alone despite earning £104,050 as an MP.

People will stop and stare at someone who is scarred or has lost a limb; a disabled person will be treated differently and they will face institutional discrimination at every turn in their lives.

The likes of Mr Ainsworth who are rotten to the core will not be stared at, he will not face discrimination and he’ll be able to admire himself in the mirror even as he advocates for reducing the amount of compensation paid to our servicemen and women who put their lives on the line to protect what is laughingly called democracy?

Let’s be clear on this, the injuries suffered by the civil servants can have a profound effect on the lives of the sufferers and we support any initiative that enables someone with a disability to live as normal a life as possible, no matter how the problem was caused.

What we can’t get our head around is how a system that gives £484,000 to a typist for RSI or pays £217,000 to a civil servant who is gormless enough to lift a printer incorrectly yet feels justified in offering only £152,000 for a soldier who has suffered such profound injuries as those of Ben Parkinson – the logic confounds us.

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