Opinion: John McCain: On 100% Navy disability pension but fit enough for White House?

This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

Last summer, amid staff disarray and fractured finances, most people wrote off the presidential hopes of Arizona Rep. Sen. John McCain. The 71-year-old pointed out he had recently hiked the Grand Canyon with a son and vowed to ‘out-campaign’ them all.

He did just that. Now he is the presumptive GOP nominee. And as such he released his 2007 income taxes last Friday. Disclosed separately was pension income of $58,358 that went untaxed.


Monday, McCain’s staff identified the retirement benefit to The Times’ Ralph Vartabedian as a “disability pension” and said the candidate “was retired as disabled because of his limited body movements due to injuries as a POW.”

During the Vietnam war in 1967 McCain was shot down over Hanoi and in the ejection from his crashing plane and beating by his captors he suffered a shattered knee and two broken arms, which went untreated during his resulting five-and-a-half years of imprisonment and torture.

He was released in 1973, arrived home on crutches to begin a long painful rehabilitation and eventually returned to duty as a squadron commander before retiring in 1981. His knee still bothers him in cold weather, McCain has written.

And he cannot raise either arm above his shoulder. The Navy has classified him as 100% disabled, which makes the pension taxfree. So is there a disparity and health concern in a White House candidate, who if elected would be the oldest man ever inaugurated president, also receiving a 100% disability military pension?

‘Tortured for his country,’ McCain senior advisor Mark Salter said tonight. ‘That is how he acquired his disability.’

Vartabedian explores the issue in a story on this website later tonight and in Tuesday’s print editions.

--Andrew Malcolm

Photo Credit: