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Fine Points of the Law

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Marine Sgt. Michael Ferschke was killed in Iraq in 2008, but his wife and their son, both Japanese citizens, cannot enter the United States. The couple exchanged vows under Japanese law by long-distance proxy, as Michael was about to deploy, but immigration law does not recognize such unions, unless subsequently "consummated." (The Ferschkes had conceived their child before they were married.)

Marine Lance Cpl. Josef Lopez took the Corps' advice and received a smallpox vaccination just before deploying to Iraq, but after nine days in country, he went into a coma with a rare adverse reaction that has left him permanently, seriously disabled. However, since he was felled by the vaccine and not "combat," he is ineligible for special disability funds to help seriously wounded troops (for such expenses as modifying a home to accommodate a disability).

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