NEW BILL COULD PREVENT MILITARY PTSD/TBI DISCHARGES
September 16, 2016
Following reports of military Servicemembers being dishonorably discharged from service for behavior linked to PTSD and TBI, lawmakers have introduced a new bill to give suffering troops the recognition they deserve. As Military Times reports, the new bill, if enacted, could make a PTSD or TBI diagnosis a legitimate rebuttal to a bad discharge.
Last week, a bi-partisan coalition of lawmakers—all of whom served in Iraq and Afghanistan—presented the bill and called for more resources to treat troops suffering from combat-related mental issues. "In the case of veterans with severe mental health problems, access to these services may be life-saving," Representative Mike Coffman said. "It is my hope that veterans with questionable, less-than-honorable discharges receive quick access to the mental health care they earned and deserve."
Advocates, victims, and officials have called attention to the issue as the Army endeavors to rapidly reduce its ranks. With the administrative pressure of hitting these troop numbers, investigative reporters have found that both commanders and military medical professionals have been complicit in handing down dishonorable discharges to Servicemembers who clearly needed treatment.
"A DEATH SENTENCE"
The Army has confirmed that, since 2009, it has less-than-honorably discharged at least 22,000 troops. Many of these troops were reprimanded due to minor infractions as well, such as tardiness, alcohol use, and other behaviors commonly attributed to those suffering from PTSD and TBI.
Top military brass has begun to recognize the issue. In February, the acting principal deputy undersecretary of defense for personnel wrote a memo that expanded a 2014 directive that allows veterans with PTSD and TBI to more easily challenge and upgrade their dishonorable discharge.
This week, it was also announced that the Army would consider upgrading the discharges of 73 Soldiers who had been diagnosed with PTSD and TBI. A letter from Army Secretary Eric Fanning revealed that the Army now believes that the cases had “insufficient documentation” of behavioral evaluation and will now be reevaluated by the Army Review Boards Agency. "The Army remains confident in the administrative processes that define misconduct separation procedures," Fanning’s letter reads.
Those close to the issue are not fighting to have these Soldiers reinstated, but rather for them to have access to medical insurance and veterans resources a dishonorable discharge does not provide. As advocate Kris Goldsmith told the press: "Those discharges could be a death sentence for these veterans."
Joseph Jordan, Attorney at Law is a U.S. Army veteran who has now dedicated his career to advocating for accused military Servicemembers. He travels the world to represent our clients and has built a reputation for securing swift and favorable results both in and outside the courtroom.
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