Following allegations that it has wrongly discharged thousands of soldiers suffering from PTSD and TBI for misconduct, the U.S. Army has announced a new review of its separation policies. As Military Times reports, the new investigation was spurred by a dozen senators who publicly called for an evaluation.
The move stems from an investigative report published by NPR that alleged that up to 22,000 soldiers had been wrongly and less-than-honorably discharged because they suffered from combat-related PTSD and TBI. Reporters concluded that this was the Army's way to quietly reduce the ranks during peace time—even if it meant denying soldiers in need the care, attention, and Army benefits they deserved following their traumas.
"We are troubled by recent allegations that the U.S. Army is forcefully separating for misconduct service members diagnosed with PTSD or TBI," Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut wrote on behalf of himself and 11 other fellow senators. "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."
"A THOROUGH, MULTIDISCIPLINARY REVIEW"
The Army has since written to Senator Murphy's office and revealed that a new investigation is underway concerning the alleged PTSD and TBI separations. "The decision to separate a soldier from the Army for any reason is not an easy one," wrote Acting Army Secretary Eric K. Fanning, "which is why we require a thorough review of the facts in each and every case." A "thorough, multidisciplinary review" of the misconduct discharges was also pledged in the letter to Murphy's office.
The Army already has in place measures to ensure fair treatment of soldiers suffering psychological or mental issues and any service member that means to appeal their discharge status. For instance, over the last 5 years, 58 new behavioral health clinics have been established, which has greatly increased a soldier's access to consultations.
"We are working diligently to provide soldiers the best medical treatment available while on active duty," Fanning added in his letter, "and to transition them seamlessly to the Department of Veterans Affairs for treatment as they re-enter civilian life.”
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