How the Military Has Repaid Iraq Vets With Permanent Disabilities

Military called brain damage and destroyed spleen a "10 percent" disability.

ByABC News
March 20, 2008, 2:29 PM

Mar. 20, 2008— -- A year ago, while filming the documentary "To Iraq and Back", I had the opportunity to meet so many injured veterans and get to know their families. Today, it is heartening to see they are all still recovering and making strides both large and small.

CLICK HERE to submit a question to a vet.Watch "World News with Charles Gibson" tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET for the full report.

Despite their progress, challenges remain for all these families. As they continue to face the everyday challenges of living with a brain injury, some of these veterans are also locked in a struggle with the military to get the disability payments they believe they deserve.

I first met Army Sgt. Will Glass and his wife, Amelia, at the Bethesda Naval Hospital a year and a half ago.

After being injured in Taji, Iraq, Glass, a native of northern California, lay in a coma for two weeks and had part of his skull removed. His hands were crushed and his left eye was gone.

Glass is just one of tens of thousands of American G.I.'s who have come home from Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain injuries (TBI). This week marks the fifth year that U.S. military forces have been in Iraq, and doctors estimate that as many as 10-15 percent of returning troops will have TBI from their exposure to blasts.But today in northern California, there is some normalcy returning to Glass's life. He has a new glass eye that moves almost like his right eye. Although one of his fingers was lost, his grip is improving and he is even taking auto repair courses.

His confidence is up and he says people "don't stare anymore. It's just like I'm a normal person to them."

The military has not yet determined Glass' disability or his future payments.

Glass recently received military photographs from the bloody scene of the roadside attack that injured him. "I feel way lucky," Glass said, looking at the photograph.

"Some people would look at that and can't imagine that you would consider yourself lucky," Woodruff said.

"Yeah, but I am happy to be alive," Glass said.

Glass now can perform daily tasks such as e dressing himself and feeding himself, giving his wife, she says, "a chance to get my life back."

When Woodruff asked what advice they would give other couples, the Glasses agreed.