February 6, 2008
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR
Leah Yoon, NPR
   

NPR NEWS TO REVEAL INTERNAL DOCUMENT
INSTRUCTING VETERANS’ AFFAIRS STAFF TO STOP
ASSISTING INJURED SOLDIERS WITH DISABILITY PAPERWORK;
ON MORNING EDITION, FEBRUARY 7

NEW REPORT FOLLOWS JANUARY 29 NPR INVESTIGATION; DOCUMENT ALSO AVAILABLE TOMORROW AT NPR.ORG


February 6, 2008; Washington, D.C. – Tomorrow on Morning Edition, NPR News will update its January 29 investigation into how Army officials instructed Veterans’ Affairs staff at Fort Drum, New York to stop assisting injured soldiers with military disability paperwork by reporting on a document that contradicts the Army Surgeon General’s denial of the initial charge.

Streaming audio of the report, along with the posted document, will also be available on www.NPR.org at 10:00AM (ET).

Last week, NPR News Justice Correspondent Ari Shapiro reported exclusively that Department of Veterans' Affairs staff at Fort Drum in upstate New York had been instructed to stop assisting injured soldiers with their military disability paperwork, used to determine annual disability payments. Within 48 hours of its broadcast, congressional leaders had asked the Army to investigate these charges and a national soldiers’ advocacy group has announced plans to seek an official military Court of Inquiry probe into the situation. The original report is here:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18492376

The Army Surgeon General denied Shapiro’s report. On the February 7 Morning Edition, Shapiro describes the contents of a document contradicting the Surgeon General’s version of events. It describes in detail the meeting at Fort Drum between VA officials and representatives from the Army Surgeon General’s office; it was written the morning after the Fort Drum meeting last Spring. Shapiro reports that, according to the four-page document, Colonel Becky Baker of the Army Surgeon General’s office told the VA to “discontinue counseling soldiers on the appropriateness of Defense Department ratings,” citing a “conflict of interest.” The document also claims that the primary purpose for the meeting was “to ensure that there are no other ‘Walter Reed’ situations at other Army installations.”

All excerpts must be credited to NPR News Morning Edition. Television usage must include on-screen NPR News credit with NPR logo.

Morning Edition, the two-hour newsmagazine airing weekdays and hosted by Steve Inskeep in Washington, D.C. and Renée Montagne from NPR West in Culver City, Calif., is public radio’s most listened-to program with more than 13 million weekly listeners. For stations and broadcast times, visit www.NPR.org/stations