Showing posts with label bad discharge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bad discharge. Show all posts

Monday, November 12, 2018

Remember the uncounted who could not count on us

There is a question each of us should be answering today. It is the day after the one day of the year we are supposed to honor our veterans. Cannot think of a better day to try to get an answer.
For over a decade the DOD has been talking about how they are making sure that the troops know what PTSD is and are supported to seek help.

Since 2012 an average of 500 a year kill themselves instead of knowing what is making them suffer and getting help to heal it.

The DOD says that most of them were not deployed, yet apparently their programs are not even good enough to prevent the suicides of non-deployed servicemembers. They expected to have us overlook the fact it was not good enough for them, then it would not work on those they sent? 

There as so many questions we will never get answers for as long as people are willing to settle for slogans instead of standing up for what they need from us!

Over 2 million have been discharged without honor and most should have been helped to heal.

Thomas Burke was one of them. He tried to kill himself and ended up with a "less than honorable discharge.

Dillan Tabares was one of them and he was shot by police.

By 2016, OEF and OIF were 300,000 with that less than honorable discharge since 2001.

Peter McRoberts was one of 2 million discharged from Vietnam and his widow fought for 40 years to clear his name.
 Do you want to leave them in the dark, or
light the way for them to heal?

When you wonder why so many are still committing suicide, remember the uncounted who could not count on us keeping the promise made to care for the wounded.

Do you want to keep supporting a slogan that could keep killing them or actually support one that could help them #TakeBackYourLife because the first one will cost you money and their lives. The second one will cost you just your time and save their lives.

They got the number wrong on the last report. They use 22 and mention the rise from 2015 to 2016 of younger veterans. What they did not mention is that the percentages have gone up since "awareness" started.
Military Suicides: Stories of Loss and Hope

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Connecticut trying to get it right for veterans

Reminder: Veterans with anything other than an "honorable" discharge, would not have been counted in any of the suicide reports. Good thing to think about reading this article from Connecticut. 

If signed by Malloy, Connecticut would be first state to open up benefits to bad paper vets
The Day
Julia Bergman
May 11, 2018
About 800 people would be impacted by the legislation, according to the fiscal note attached to the bill. But it's not known how many of them would actually take advantage of the benefits. The legislation would result in "costs to multiple agencies and revenue loss to the General Fund, Special Transportation Fund, and municipalities," the fiscal note says.
Connecticut would be the first state to open up access to veterans' benefits to former service members discharged under less than honorable conditions, if Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signs a bill that's headed to his desk.

Both the state House and Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 284, which would expand access to state veteran benefits to former service members diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, a traumatic brain injury or who experienced sexual trauma during their service, as long as they received a discharge other than bad conduct or dishonorable. The 2018 legislative session ended Wednesday at midnight.

Asked whether the governor intends to sign the bill, spokesman David Bednarz said by email "the Governor and his staff will review the final language that was included in the adopted bill when it is transmitted to his office."

There are five types of military discharges. An "other than honorable discharge" is the most severe form of administrative discharge, usually given after a pattern of misconduct. This kind of discharge, commonly referred to as a bad paper discharge, usually makes a veteran ineligible for state and federal veterans' benefits. In Connecticut, that means being denied local property tax exemptions and tuition waivers for universities and community and technical colleges in the state, for example.
read more here

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Marine surviving suicide led to bad paper discharge

Blown-up children led to Marine’s near-suicide
By Ken Dixon
March 7, 2018
Instead, with four months left in his second Middle East deployment Burke started smoking marijuana given to him and other members of his unit by friendly Afghan police. It helped him sleep. Five months after the near-suicide, he was out of the Marines, with a less-than-honorable discharge, often called “bad paper.”
Thomas Burke, a Marine Corp’s veteran who received a less-than-honorable discharge, appears before the Veterans Affairs Committee of the General Assembly on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at the State Capitol in Hartford, Conn. Burke asked state lawmakers to allow those whose with mental-health issues to gain some benefits from which they are currently prohibited.
Photo: Ken Dixon / Hearst Connecticut Media
HARTFORD — What pushed Thomas Burke to the edge that night on the river bank in Afghanistan with his gun in his mouth, was the blood and broken, scattered children’s corpses.

A group of kids, determined to help Burke’s Marine Corps unit rid their central-Afghanistan home of the Taliban, would regularly present the soldiers with unexploded bombs — mostly improvised explosive devices — for disposal. A week before he almost committed suicide, the youngsters had found the live warhead of a rocket-propelled grenade.

“They were bringing it to me and it exploded on them,” Burke, 26, told state lawmakers of the 2009 incident. “I had to go and personally pick up their body parts and put them in the back of a trailer. A week after that I sat on the bank of the Helmand River and I put my gun in my mouth.”

His voice broke as he continued.

“I, fortunately, had a friend follow me out into the middle of Afghanistan without his own personal protection equipment... follow me being an idiot, and he saved my life. Had I pulled that trigger that night I would have had an honorable discharge.”
read more here

Monday, September 25, 2017

Was Dillan Tabares One of the Wrongly Discharged with PTSD

When reporters go to cover more of this story, finding out if Tabares was one of the thousands with "bad paper" discharges instead of being treated for PTSD. 

If he was, then being shot by police on Friday night should be part of the historical account about how we treat those who serve.

Man Killed By Huntington Beach Officer Was Navy Veteran, Says Mother Looking For Answers

CBS Los Angeles
September 24, 2017

HUNTINGTON BEACH ( — The mother of a 27-year-old man fatally shot by a Huntington Beach police officer Friday says her son was a Navy veteran who suffered from mental health issues.

Cell phone video shows the moments leading up to Dillan Tabares’ death, reported around 9:40 a.m. in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven at 6012 Edinger Avenue.

In one of two videos, Tabares appears to swing at the Huntington Beach police officer and the two wrestle and fall to the ground. Another angle shows Tabares appear to grab something from the officer’s waistband. Seconds later, the officer opens fire seven times, killing Tabares.
The victim’s mother, Tiffany Tabares, was at the scene grieving with loved ones Sunday evening. 
She said her son received a less-than-honorable discharge from the Navy and she’s looking for more here

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Vietnam Veterans of America Win Fight For PTSD Veterans With "Bad Papers"

Pentagon expands policy to upgrade vets’ bad paper discharges

Published: August 29, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department on Monday issued a sweeping policy change to afford more leeway to veterans seeking upgrades to their other-than-honorable discharges.
A memorandum dated Aug. 25 instructs the Army Review Boards Agency — the office charged with changing military records — to give “liberal consideration” to veterans looking to upgrade their less-than-honorable discharges, or “bad paper,” because of mental health conditions or traumatic brain injury, sexual assault or sexual harassment and outlines what should be considered when deciding an upgrade.
In 2014, former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had ordered the Army Review Boards Agency to give consideration to veterans looking to upgrade their less-than-honorable discharges because of post-traumatic stress disorder. The new memo expands on Hagel’s order after years of veterans asking for government recognition that troops are, in some instances, affected by service-related mental health conditions that change their behaviors and lead to disciplinary problems.
“This new guidance is something that veteran advocates should be really excited about – it’s what we’ve been asking for from the Pentagon for years,” said Kristofer Goldsmith, an Iraq War veteran who has fought for 10 years to change upgrade procedures. “This memo is filled with signals that there may yet be hope for the thousands of veterans who have been unfairly suffering the effects of bad paper.”

Advocates, lawmakers push for answers to problem of 'bad paper' discharges
Stars and Stripes
Leo Shane III
September 13, 2016
Veterans advocates rallied on Capitol Hill Tuesday to urge lawmakers deal with the problem of so-called "bad paper" discharges that prevent some struggling veterans from receiving health care, and urged the White House to intervene while the legislative process drags on.

"It's disturbing to see this issue come back," said John Rowan, president and CEO of Vietnam Veterans of America. "We saw half a million questionable less-than-honorable discharges during the Vietnam era. And to think that today there are as many as 300,000 more since Sept. 11, that's a disgrace."

Senate lawmakers have already included legislation in the annual defense authorization bill to require the Defense Department to review and improve the discharge process after numerous reports of troops being forced out of the ranks without veterans benefits due to infractions like suicide attempts and substance abuse related to post-traumatic stress disorder.
read more here

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Making A Successful Comeback?

When you hear about an actor or musician making a "successful comeback" you may think it is a great thing, but I always wonder where they are coming back from. After all, they didn't stop reading scripts or pretending to be someone else. They didn't stop playing music. So where did they go making it necessary to comeback?

When men and women comeback from combat, it seems that far too many are not making it a successful one. Suicides are up even though it seems as if everyone is talking about them, the one person we can't hear from, is the one who accomplished it. Families are still fracturing. Veterans still end up homeless. Far too many have been discovering their comeback from combat was worse than combat itself.

The dishonorable treatment of far too many servicemembers has been going on through three presidents. The following article goes back to a review of dishonorable discharges during an election year. It was still President Bush as Commander-in-Chief while his replacement was on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act of 2007
The text of the bill below is as of Feb 28, 2007 (Introduced).
1st Session
S. 713


February 28, 2007
Mr. Obama (for himself, Mrs. McCaskill, Mr. Baucus, Mr. Bayh, Mr. Biden, Mr. Bingaman, Mr. Bond, Mrs. Boxer, Mr. Brown, Ms. Cantwell, Mr. Dorgan, Mr. Durbin, Mr. Feingold, Mr. Kerry, Ms. Klobuchar, Ms. Landrieu, Ms. Mikulski, Ms. Murkowski, Mr. Pryor, Mr. Rockefeller, Mr. Sanders, Ms. Snowe, and Mr. Conrad) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services
5. Improved training for caseworkers and social workers on particular conditions of recovering servicemembers
Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report setting forth recommendations for the modification of the training provided to caseworkers and social workers who provide care for recovering servicemembers. The recommendations shall include, at a minimum, specific recommendations to ensure that such caseworkers and social workers are able to—(1)detect early warning signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicidal tendencies among recovering servicemembers; and

(2)promptly devise appropriate treatment plans as such signs are detected.
But as we've seen, just because someone knew something was happening, it didn't mean they made the necessary changes to fix it. To see all of this still going on leaves me wondering if our troops will ever make a successful comeback from combat.
Military must clean up discharge practices
My San Antonio
Express-News Editorial Board
Published July 22, 2017
In 2008, the military was using a different diagnosis — personality disorders — to accomplish the same thing. Congress generally put a stop to that.
Iraq War veteran Dustin Greco was less-than-honorably discharged because the military ignored the possibility that his behavioral problems stemmed from service-related issues. A mental issue arising from the trauma of war is as deserving of attention as any other combat-related injury. Photo: John Carl D’Annibale /Albany Times Union
Iraq War veteran Dustin Greco was less-than-honorably discharged because the military ignored the possibility that his behavioral problems stemmed from service-related issues. A mental issue arising from the trauma of war is as deserving of attention as any other combat-related injury.

In discharging — less than honorably — soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen with service-connected mental conditions, the U.S. military is making a mockery of the standards of honor it is sworn to uphold. The practice was detailed in a recent Express-News report by Martin Kuz.

It is a type of phenomenon not unknown to the Express-News, which wrote in its 2013 “Twice Betrayed” series of the military forcing out sexual assault victims rather than providing them the justice and the services they needed. That series resulted in congressional action that forced the military to remedy its practices in dealing with such victims.

Congress needs to take another look at whether the military is unjustly discharging members to spare the government the expense of providing the care and services due veterans with service-connected mental health issues.

Kuz wrote that the latest tactic likely involves military members diagnosed with adjustment disorders. This has resulted in less-than-honorable discharges, which deny those discharged care provided by the Veterans Affairs Department and a host of other benefits.
read more here
Now that you read that, think of one more thing. These men and women survived combat but were left to fight for themselves and that, that is clearly wrong!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Badly Discharged PTSD Veterans Shouldn't Have to Wait for Crisis For Help

One Veteran Fights For Others To Keep Their VA Health Care
CBS Boston
July 6, 2017
“It doesn’t make any sense to wait for a veteran to reach a state of emergency to start providing care.” Kristopher Goldsmith
ASHBURNHAM (CBS) — One American veteran says he remembers the emotional trauma of seeing the Trade Towers fall on 9/11.

“I was close enough to the towers when they fell on September 11th to see the smoke from my hometown,” said Kristofer Goldsmith.

Now set against the backdrop of a peaceful lake in Ashburnham, Goldsmith told us about one of the most tumultuous times in his life. He was deployed to Iraq at the age of 19 where he photographed atrocities.

“Sometimes it meant that I would be taking pictures of bodies, victims of torture. Iraqi on Iraqi violence,” Goldsmith said.

He had to battle post traumatic stress disorder and even a suicide attempt.

“I took a fist full of Percocet and a bottle of vodka,” he said.

He said he woke up handcuffed to a hospital bed and unable to make it to the flight for his second deployment. He received a general discharge from the army.

“I went from being one of the top soldiers in my battalion to being treated like a criminal,” he said.
read more here

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bad Paper Discharged Veterans Get Some Justice

'Bad-paper' veterans now get 90 days of mental help
San Diego Union Tribune
Jeanette Steele
June 28, 2017
The VA estimates that more than 500,000 former service members hold other-than-honorable discharges. About 125,000 of them are post-9/11 veterans, according to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
It's official. Veterans with other-than-honorable discharges can get 90 days of mental-health help from the VA.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced the policy Tuesday, confirming a move that VA Secretary David Shulkin telegraphed back in March.

Otherwise, veterans with these “bad-paper” discharges -- which usually result from minor crime or misbehavior while in uniform — wouldn’t be eligible for care at VA hospitals.

The move is aimed at reducing the 20-a-day suicide rate among veterans.
read more here

Also on this, a little background; Vietnam Veterans of America have fought for all generations of veterans to receive justice.
Advocates, lawmakers push for answers to problem of 'bad paper' discharges
Military Times, By: Leo Shane III, September 13, 2016 It’s disturbing to see this issue come back,” said John Rowan, president and CEO of Vietnam Veterans of America. “We saw half a million questionable less-than-honorable discharges during the Vietnam era. And to think that today there are as many as 300,000 more since Sept. 11, that’s a disgrace.”
Resources are scarce for many veterans with less than honorable discharges
Columbus Dispatch, William T Perkins, June 12, 2016
Veterans without access to the VA are seven times as likely to end up homeless, six times as likely to end up in jail and 30 percent more likely to die by suicide.
That’s due, in part, to downsizing in the military, said Kristofer Goldsmith, assistant director for policy and government relations at Vietnam Veterans of America. Between 2000 and 2015, the size of the military dropped from 3.8 million service members to 1.1 million, according to data from the Department of Defense. And military cuts are expected to continue in coming years.

Goldsmith, who was other-than-honorably discharged in 2007 after a suicide attempt, said the easiest way for commanders to meet those cuts is by issuing more bad-paper discharges, cutting short those service members’ active-duty time.
Now that you see that, keep in mind that as the "training" the DOD was pushing to "prevent" the "one too many" suicides they kept talking about, the numbers did not go down to reflect that size drop in the number of service members.  How is that for "awareness" now?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Stigma of PTSD Lives On, and So Does Education

This is a really good article to read. "An unfair stigma for vets with PTSD" By Sol Wachtler on Newsday.
Fifty years ago, 550,000 U.S. troops fought in Vietnam. At war’s end, more than half of all veterans diagnosed with PTSD had been arrested — more than one multiple times mostly for drug-related crimes. Many suffered from undiagnosed and untreated combat-related PTSD and, tragically, many were issued less-than-honorable discharges from the service. For years, the military underdiagnosed and did not treat the problems and then cursed the sufferers with discharges for misconduct.
There were no Veterans Courts for Vietnam Veterans. Reporters only covered them when they were arrested, so no one really gave a damn. Really sad considering they ended up changing the way people surviving trauma were treated!

Great reminder right there that this is not new. It happened to Vietnam veterans when no one care, yet they were the ones who did not give up on themselves or any other generation. They fought for all the funding, research and yes, even understanding. 

This is the part that got me,
“There is a coming tsunami of . . . veterans who have been wrongly discharged for conduct that was, in fact, PTSD-related at a time when PTSD was not well understood,” Ken Rosenblum, a Vietnam vet and former Army officer who ran the Touro Law Center Vets Clinic, told Newsday.
Nice to be quoted but would be nicer to actually have someone mention it.

Still, as I wrote above a great article to read but putting up almost 28,000 posts on this site alone, plus the other decades of writing about it, most of the time, folks use quotes and don't even remember where they came from. Hmm, I wonder if someone used it before me? Then again, the research has been going on for over 40 years, so I wouldn't doubt it. Besides, there were a lot of people out there before I came along. I learned from them!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A stigma for veterans with PTSD

A stigma for veterans with PTSD
By Sol Wachtler
June 16, 2017
Trump has repeated his support of veterans. He should consider the pardon and restoration of the honor of those veterans whose “misbehavior” and “bad paper” were caused by service-related mental disabilities.
Sixty-two percent of the 91,764 service members dismissed by the U.S. military for misconduct between 2011 and 2015 had been diagnosed two years before separation with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or other conditions that could be associated with misconduct. And more than 13,200 of them received an “other than honorable” characterization of service, referred to as “bad paper,” making them ineligible for health benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The discharges, imposed with little or no due process, carried the stigma of a criminal conviction and the stain of dishonor. They contributed to homelessness, substance abuse and suicide.

Fifty years ago, 550,000 U.S. troops fought in Vietnam. At war’s end, more than half of all veterans diagnosed with PTSD had been arrested — more than one, multiple times, mostly for drug-related crimes. Many suffered from undiagnosed and untreated combat-related PTSD and, tragically, many were issued less-than-honorable discharges from the service. For years, the military underdiagnosed and did not treat the problems and then cursed the sufferers with discharges for misconduct.
read more here

Monday, May 29, 2017

"Honor the dead by caring for the living"

If there is one takeaway from 

Our View: Honor the dead by caring for the living

It is this!
To them, we owe our deepest gratitude.
While we cannot adequately repay that debt to those made the supreme sacrifice for us, we can perhaps honor them by caring for those who fought and survived the horrors of war. Yet a new report suggests we are failing at that.

The Government Accountability Office released a study indicating that between 2011 and 2015 the Pentagon booted 91,764 soldiers from military service for misconduct, and that 62 percent of them suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or some other debilitating mental health condition. Misconduct typically involves drug usage, criminal activity, insubordination or going AWOL.

Of the 57,141 troops released from service, the GAO determined that the bulk of them were provided general discharges, which still qualified them for many benefits available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, education being the exception. Still, 13,283 of them were issued “other-than-honorable” discharges, which typically made them ineligible for VA healthcare programs.

Ninety-eight percent of the 57,141 soldiers in question were enlisted personnel, as opposed to officers, and they had on average served four years on active duty. In short, they were solid veterans from the lower ranks who had done their duty until something rattled them or the engineering inside their skull.
Please use the link and read the rest of this and think about what you just learned. We owe them, but that part keeps getting missed! 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Sean Doolittle Pitches For PTSD Veterans With Bad Discharges

Stand Up: A's pitcher Sean Doolittle's quest to properly help veterans with "bad paper"

Sports Illustrated
May 25th, 2017
Most vets who’ve received less-than-honorable discharges, known as “bad paper”, are stripped of their legal status as a veteran and may be unable to access VA services like healthcare, disability benefits, education programs or housing assistance, regardless of their service record or deployment history.
Oakland A’s reliever Sean Doolittle and his fiancee, writer and broadcaster Eireann Dolan, have been involved with veteran’s issues for years. They’ve decided to share what they’ve learned about the challenges facing vets with “bad paper” in this op-ed.

In recent months there has been an ongoing conversation, especially in sports, about what it means to stand during “The Star Spangled Banner”. One argument is that it’s disrespectful to those who served not to stand—it’s about honoring our veterans who fought under that flag, who volunteered to defend our country and fight for our freedoms. If we’re going to have that conversation, then we also need to have a conversation about taking better care of our veterans. If we’re really going to honor them, the national anthem and “God Bless America” shouldn’t be the only times we stand up for them.

Earlier this year, new Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) David Shulkin announced the VA would begin providing mental healthcare to “bad paper” veterans—or veterans with “less-than-honorable” discharges—who urgently need it, in an attempt to prevent veteran suicides. Then, on May 3, Shulkin testified before the House Appropriations Committee and promised to expand mental healthcare programs and caregiver support programs, even if the VA isn’t given additional government funding.
read more here

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Connecticut PTSD Bill to Study What They Already Know?

Committee changes bill that would expand benefits to vets with PTSD, brain injuries
The Day
By Julia Bergman Day staff writer
March 03. 2017
"We have enough knowledge to know that there is a problem here and generally I don't think a study is going to be helpful. A study is going to simply flesh out what we already know." Rep. Stephen Harding
Hartford — Supporters of a proposal, which would enable certain veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury to receive state benefits, are discouraged by changes made to the proposed bill that, they say, effectively kill the bill's chances of being passed this session.

House Bill 5580, introduced by state Rep. Stephen Harding, R-Brookfield, in its originally proposed form, would've allowed vets, who received an "other than honorable discharge" as a result of being diagnosed with PTSD or TBI, to qualify for state veterans' benefits.

The Veterans Affairs' Committee, to which the bill was assigned, changed the language so that it now calls for a study of how many of these vets exist, how much it would cost to provide benefits to them and how that process would be executed. Rep. Jack Hennessy, D-Bridgeport, co-chair of the veterans committee, said members were concerned that the original proposal would've put the state in a position of making a connection between a vets' diagnosis of PTSD or TBI and his or her so-called "bad paper" discharge.
read more here

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Combat PTSD Bad Discharges May Not Be Lifetime Scarlet Letter

Pentagon review could help veterans shed ‘bad paper’ discharges linked to trauma
Published: December 30, 2016
“So many of our servicemembers have developed PTSD and brain injuries while on active duty," he said. "Many...were undiagnosed until long after their service was completed."
The Defense Department announced Friday that it is reviewing and potentially upgrading the discharge status of veterans who might have been improperly discharged for reasons related to post-traumatic stress syndrome, sexual orientation, sexual assault and other circumstances.

“With today’s announcement, the department is reaffirming its intention to review and potentially upgrade the discharge status of all individuals that are eligible and that apply,” a Pentagon news release said.

The announcement comes a week after President Barack Obama signed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which included a bipartisan provision to help veterans who may have been erroneously given a less-than-honorable discharge due to bad behavior arising from mental trauma, such as PTSD or traumatic brain injury.
“Too many service members have lost access to their VA benefits because of mental health injuries that were not recognized when they left the military,” said Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee Personnel Subcommittee, in the same statement.

The provision will let veterans with mental health injuries and those who experienced military sexual trauma more easily have their discharges upgraded “so that they can get the care they need and the benefits they earned,” she said. read more here

They would not have PTSD or TBI if they did not risk their lives. Why should they have to pay for their service the rest of their lives just because we did not help them while they were still in? The DOD told them it was their fault when they pushed "Resilience Training" making them think they were weak instead of having a strong emotional core. How could they ask for help when they believed there was something wrong with them instead of right with why they served in the first place? They did not get the help they needed and it is up to us to make sure they get justice now.