Something about this story sounds fishy... John McCain is collecting disability payments based on injuries he sustained when shot down, imprisoned, and tortured during the Vietnam War.

Sen. John McCain has long said he is in robust health and is strong enough to hike the Grand Canyon, but he also is receiving what his staff Monday termed a "disability pension" from the Navy.

When McCain released his tax return for 2007 on Friday, he separately disclosed that he received a pension of $58,358 that was not listed as income on his return.

On Monday, McCain's staff identified the retirement benefit as a "disability pension" and said that McCain "was retired as disabled because of his limited body movements due to injuries as a POW."

McCain campaign strategist Mark Salter said Monday night that McCain was technically disabled. "Tortured for his country -- that is how he acquired his disability," Salter said.

There's no question that McCain served America heroically, but from what I've seen he doesn't appear to be disabled. In fact, he appears to be far more robust than many younger men. Maybe military disability payments don't work according to my intuition, but shouldn't they be used to compensate people who are unable to work because of their injuries? McCain has been drawing a Senatorial salary for decades, which would appear to undermine a claim that his injuries have hindered him professionally.

On the other hand, maybe military disability payments are intended as compensation for injuries, regardless of their effect on a person's productivity. Are they just ongoing payouts for transitory pain, suffering, and disability? Should McCain be getting paid because he is still unable to raise his arms above his shoulders? I don't know the answers to all these questions, but it seems odd to me that a man capable of serving as a US Senator is considered to be so disabled that he requires disability payments to sustain him.

(Note: If someone were to propose it, I could potentially support a system that gives monetary rewards to American troops who act with great heroism, but I don't think disability payments are an appropriate way to accomplish that goal in an unofficial manner.)

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