Following a shocking investigative report from NPR last month, a dozen senators are now calling for the Army to investigate the misconduct discharges of nearly 22,000 soldiers since 2009. According to the NPR report, each of those soldiers had exhibited symptoms of combat-related TBI and PTSD and now, due to their less-than-honorable discharge, are cut off from crucial post-service benefits.
As Army Times reports, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut has lead the call for an internal investigation of the Army's discharge practices. "We are troubled by recent allegations that the U.S. Army is forcefully separating for misconduct service members diagnosed with PTSD or TBI," the lawmakers said in a statement. "We are concerned that it may be easier to discharge service members for minor misconduct—possibly related to mental health issues—than to evaluate them for conditions that may warrant a medical discharge."
It is believed that the Army is using "misconduct" allegations against soldiers to cheaply reduce the ranks during peacetime. NPR's investigation of the cases of several individual soldiers who showed marked signs of PTSD and TBI showed that they were scolded and marginalized by psychiatrists at their base. In one case, a soldier was even accidentally forwarded an email proving that his psychiatrist was working with base officers on streamlining a misconduct dismissal, even though they recognized the soldier was dealing with acute behavioral symptoms of TBI.
READY & DEPLOYABLE SOLDIERS
Army officials have insisted that misconduct allegations have not been used to reduce the ranks and save money, but some have admitted that maintaining a pool of ready and deployable soldiers is always a priority for the service. Army Times spoke with Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey about the NPR report and Dailey explained that keeping a balance between maintaining a capable military force and providing resources for those who have been injured is a "tough issue."
"You’ve got to treat every soldier with dignity and respect, you’ve got to evaluate every soldier’s case with regards to their propensity to serve in the future based on their condition and the recommendations from their doctor and command," Dailey told Army Times. "Commanders are given though choices." In the meantime, the Army has stated that it will "respond accordingly" to the senators' call for an investigation.
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