Showing posts with label less than honorable discharges. Show all posts
Showing posts with label less than honorable discharges. Show all posts

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Why is the Pentagon hiding number of other than honorable discharges?

Lawsuit: Pentagon Withholding Info From Veterans' Advocates

By The Associated Press
Jan. 3, 2020
Dana Montalto, a clinical instructor at Harvard Law School's Veterans Legal Clinic"...there are thousands of decisions going back at least 15 years. She said the lack of information hampers veterans' efforts to change their discharge statuses and to get more help." 

NORFOLK, Va. — A veterans group said the Pentagon has stopped releasing information that helps former service members to contest less-than-honorable discharges from the military.

The Defense Department has been breaking the law since April, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Virginia by the National Veterans Legal Services Program.

The group says it lacks access to decisions made by military review boards. The boards grant or deny a veteran's request to upgrade a less-than-honorable discharge. Veterans’ lawyers study those decisions in hopes of building successful arguments for their clients.

The lawsuit comes at a time of growing recognition that a less-than-honorable discharge can stem from behaviors brought on by post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries. Liberal consideration is supposed to be given to veterans with combat-related mental health conditions and to those who were sexually assaulted while in the military.
read it here

More on this subject is a great report on 'Bad Paper' Discharges Would Get Final Pentagon Review in Defense Bill

Who gets to decide if the service member can fight the discharge?
The bill states that the secretary of defense, upon receiving a petition from an individual whose upgrade request has been rejected, could order the service branch secretaries to grant the upgrade "if the Secretary of Defense determines that such recommendation is appropriate after review."
Notice the "could" instead of "must" or anything else that requires a review?

The report goes on to explain how many service members are being kicked out.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 500,000 veterans currently have less-than-honorable discharges, and most of them cannot access VA medical care because of their discharge status.
And this part shows how many were kicked out instead of being helped to heal PTSD and TBI.

In a 2017 report, the Government Accountability Office said that 62% of the roughly 92,000 personnel separated for misconduct between fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2015 had been diagnosed with PTSD or TBI.

And all of that is because what happened to Vietnam veterans was repeated instead of corrected by the "grateful nation" all of them risked their lives to serve.

Vietnam-era soldiers eligible for discharge upgrades which came out in 2014. You'd think it would have been fixed by now...but then again, you'd have to think the someone was being held accountable.
PTSD was not recognized as a potential behavior altering medical condition until 1980, which means that disability claims and discharge upgrades based on claims of the condition routinely were denied by government agencies, to include the Army review boards.

Hagel's September instruction to the services followed by several months a federal court class action suit filed by a group veterans and the Vietnam Veterans of America that claims the military systematically denied discharge upgrade applications based on claims of PTSD.

The suit estimated that about one-third of the 250,000 other-than-honorable discharges issued to Vietnam era veterans may have been PTSD-related.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Senator Harris announced plans for veterans...three years after it happened?

Harris releases plan to give VA benefits to veterans with less-than-honorable discharges and reverse military transgender ban
Harris pointed to a 2017 Government Accountability Office report that found that 62% of service members who were separated for misconduct over a four-year period had been diagnosed two years prior to their separation with PTSD, TBI or other conditions — and about a quarter of them received less-than-honorable discharges, making them possibly ineligible for VA benefits.
But she is a little late on that one. 
The same year she was elected to the Senate...
Kamala D. Harris is a lifelong public safety and civil rights leader. Elected in 2016, she is the second African American woman in history to be elected to the U.S. Senate, and the first African American and first woman to serve as Attorney General of the state of California.
"Pentagon review could help veterans shed ‘bad paper’ discharges linked to trauma" was the headline on Stars and Stripes December 2016

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.

Such discharges, also called “bad paper” discharges, often arise from minor misconduct — such as being late — and other behaviors that are linked to trauma-related conditions. Veterans with less-than-honorable discharges are ineligible for certain benefits.
read it here

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Vietnam veteran needed help, got bad paper discharge in return for service

A Vietnam veteran needed help. The government gave him a “bad paper” discharge instead

McClatchy News
JULY 25, 2019
“What person in their right mind would serve the country honorably and then come back and go AWOL? I had to have been nuts.” Charles Smith

When Charles Smith came home after two years in Vietnam during one of the bloodiest periods of the conflict, he was a traumatized 21-year-old who needed help.

But all he could think about in 1969 was getting away from the military and “drinking myself to death.”

Smith — now 70 years old and living in Conway, S.C. — displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, a condition that wasn’t formally recognized by the U.S. medical community until 1980. He dealt with his pain by going Absent Without Leave, or AWOL.

That action affected the rest of his life.

He received an “undesirable” discharge in 1971, which at the time was a subcategory of “less than honorable.” Smith’s mental state and his exposure to combat weren’t part of the evaluation.

That became a double injury, because the designation meant Smith would not be eligible to get medical or mental health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, or any financial benefits like disability payments, housing loans and education.

He is among tens of thousands of veterans who have experienced that same type of military separation, even though they are often among the troops who need care the most. Veterans believe many of these discharges are undeserved and call them “bad paper.”

“It’s taking time. That’s more suffering mentally, physically and spiritually, really, because you still will continue to drink or use drugs or whatever you want to escape,” he continued. “And most folks get discouraged, because they’re taking ‘No’ for an answer.”
read it here

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

When do we “Protect Those Who Served"


The Intercept
Jasper Craven
July 8 2019

Veterans Affairs Police Are Supposed to “Protect Those Who Served.” They Have a Shocking Record of Brutality and Impunity.
For years, veterans advocates and policymakers have worked to open the VA to the half-million so-called bad paper veterans like Hathaway. Last year, Congress directed the VA to offer more mental health care benefits to this neglected population. For Hathaway, however, it was too little and too late.

DERRICK HATHAWAY SERVED multiple tours in Kosovo, contributing to a NATO peacekeeping mission aimed at preventing ethnic cleansing. While Hathaway envisioned his Marine mission as a humanitarian one, he soon became ashamed of his work. In the course of mapping safe routes for NATO forces, Hathaway’s platoon would perform no-knock home raids to search for weapons or contraband, leading to tense confrontations with frightened families.

“It was martial law,” Hathaway said. “That left a nasty taste in my mouth. All we were doing was feeding a new form of hate.”

Still, Hathaway followed orders and earned a number of awards for his military service, including the Good Conduct Medal, which is given to recognize “good behavior and faithful service.” But after half a decade in uniform, Hathaway was given a bad conduct discharge in February 2005. He got the boot after failing a Department of Defense drug test administered shortly after a rowdy weekend in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Among other things, this denied him access to mental health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

For years, veterans advocates and policymakers have worked to open the VA to the half-million so-called bad paper veterans like Hathaway. Last year, Congress directed the VA to offer more mental health care benefits to this neglected population. For Hathaway, however, it was too little and too late.
read it here

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Other than honorable way to treat combat veterans

Lawmakers demand change after KING 5 reveals VA fumble left veterans without help

KING 5 News
Author: Taylor Mirfendereski
May 21, 2019
Members of Congress who championed a 2018 law that increases access to mental health care for veterans say the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hasn't done enough to implement it.

SEATTLE — Several current and former members of Congress who championed a 2018 law that makes a vulnerable group of veterans eligible for mental health care at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are calling for change after a KING 5 story revealed the VA mishandled the program's roll out.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, said Tuesday that she's concerned about the VA's failure to reach other-than-honorable veterans who qualify for mental health treatment under the law, which Congress passed in March 2018 to reduce suicides among the group of veterans who previously were largely ineligible for care.

"Obviously I am not happy with how the VA has implemented the law," said Murray, who co-sponsored the legislation. "It is their responsibility. It is our responsibility for oversight, which we are following this very closely on."

Nationwide, less than one percent of veterans with other-than-honorable discharges received mental health treatment at the VA last year, according to data provided by a VA spokeswoman.

Congress set a 180-day deadline for the VA to notify eligible veterans about the change, but it took the agency nearly a year after the law passed to make direct contact with veterans who qualified for care.
read more here

And what type of veteran is included in all of this?

'The Army Broke Him'
SHELTON -- Kord Ball dug out his wrinkled Army uniform from a pile of clothes inside his Shelton trailer.

And for the first time in months, the disheveled staff sergeant mustered up the energy to shave and get a haircut.

That September 2018 morning was one of Ball's last days in the U.S. Army, after a decorated 10-year military career. But the 27-year-old didn't leave the service on good terms.

Army leaders at Joint Base Lewis McChord kicked Ball out of the service for misconduct because he failed a drug test for marijuana. He received an other-than-honorable discharge, which strips away his right to access veteran benefits, including long-term health care from the Department of Veteran Affairs.

But records show the behavior that got Ball in trouble was directly related to his diagnosed anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder -- medical conditions brought on by his military service. And now, the veteran doesn't have a right to access the long-term medical benefits he needs to heal.
read more here

If you were kicked out instead of helped to heal, tell your story so that this BS stops! The only way they get away with treating those who serve like this is to remain silent!

#BreakTheSilence and #TakeBackYourLife

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

You still matter even with an "other than honorable discharge"

Other-than-honorable discharge?

VAntage Point
Department of Veterans Affairs
Hans Peterson
May 15, 2019

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has made mental health care treatment available to former service members with other-than-honorable (OTH) administrative discharges through two new programs.
One service, initiated in 2017, is specifically focused on expanding access to assist former OTH service members who are in mental health distress and may be at risk for suicide or other adverse behaviors.

The department’s Veterans Health Administration (VHA) medical centers are prepared to offer emergency stabilization care for former service members who arrive at the facility with a mental health need.

Former service members with an OTH administrative discharge may receive care for their mental health emergency for an initial period of up to 90 days, which can include inpatient, residential or outpatient care.

During this time, VHA and the Veterans Benefits Administration will work together to determine if the mental health condition is a result of a service-related injury, making the service member eligible for ongoing coverage for that condition.

A second initiative focuses on the implementation of Public Law 115-141. With this implementation, VA notified former service members of the mental and behavioral health care they may now be eligible for and sent out over 475,000 letters to inform former service members about this care.

The letters (sample follows) explained what they may be eligible for, how long they may be able to receive care and how they can get started.

“You are receiving this notification because you may be eligible for services from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Congress recently passed legislation that allows VA to provide ongoing mental and behavioral health care to certain former service members with Other Than Honorable (OTH) discharges, including those who

Were on active duty for more than 100 days and served in a combat role, or
Experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault while serving.

The rate of death by suicide among Veterans who do not use VA care is increasing at a greater rate than Veterans who use VA care; according to agency mental health officials. This is a national emergency that requires bold action. VA will do all that we can to help former service members who may be at risk. When we say even one Veteran suicide is one too many, we mean it.

In 2018, 1,818 individuals with an OTH discharge received mental health treatment, three times more than the 648 treated in 2017.

There was a total of 2,580 former servicemembers with an OTH discharge that received care in 2018 in VHA. Of these, 1,818 received treatment in Mental Health Services. Of the 2,580 servicemembers with OTH discharge, 1,076 had a mental health diagnosis.

Additionally, VA may be able to treat a mental illness presumed to be related to military service. When VA is unable to provide care, VA will work with partner agencies and will assist in making referrals for additional care as needed.

You can call or visit a VA medical center or Vet Center and let them know that you are a former service member with an OTH discharge who is interested in receiving mental health care.

Veterans in crisis should call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 (press 1), or text 838255.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Connecticut taking care of veterans the DOD failed

Connecticut VA Opens Its Doors To 'Bad Paper' Veterans

NPR All Things Considered
November 26, 2018

For an estimated 500,000 veterans, being put out of the military with an other than honorable discharge is a source of shame and an obstacle to employment. "Bad paper," in most cases, means no benefits or health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs — even when the problems that got them kicked out were linked to PTSD, traumatic brain injury or military sexual assault.
Thomas Burke, a pastor at the Norfield Congregational Church in Weston, Conn., recently became Norfield's associate minister of children, youth and families. Monica Jorge for NPR
But last month, Connecticut opened state VA resources to vets who can show that one of those conditions is linked to their discharge. For veterans like Thomas Burke, now a youth minister at Norfield Congregational Church, it's part of a long path to recovery.
"When I first started looking for jobs, I did not want to be a youth minister to kids, because my PTSD stems from a traumatic event where I failed children," says Burke.
Glad they used "estimated 500,000" because we know it is a lot more...and happened to every generation of veterans. It is at least 2 million 300,000 with a majority of them dealing with PTSD.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Court allows military veterans suffering from service-connected PTSD and TBI lawsuit

Court allows class-action suit against Navy over ‘bad paper’ discharges

Military Times
Leo Shane III
November 16, 2018

WASHINGTON — Veterans forced from the Navy and Marine Corps for what they say were undiagnosed mental health problems will be able move ahead with a class-action lawsuit against the military asking for denied benefits, a federal court ruled Thursday.

Marines assigned the 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit move uphill during training operations in Jordan on April 24, 2018. A new court ruling will allow "bad paper" veterans to bring a class-action lawsuit against the Navy for what they claim were unlawful dismissals from the ranks. (Cpl. Austin Livingston/Marine Corps)
The move could affect thousands of so-called “bad paper” veterans who allege Defense Department officials unjustly ended their careers rather than deal with their military-related injuries.

“This decision is a victory for the tens of thousands of military veterans suffering from service-connected PTSD and TBI who are denied the support of VA resources because of an unfair discharge status,” Tyson Manker, an Iraq War veteran and plaintiff in the case, said in a statement Friday.

He called the court’s favorable ruling “further evidence of the Department of Defense’s disgraceful violation of the legal rights of the men and women who have served their country.”
read more here

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Joint Base Lewis McChord kicked out soldiers for PTSD

Army leaders punish sick Shelton soldier in need of help
K5 News
Taylor Mirfendereski
November 14, 2018

'The Army Broke Him'

SHELTON -- Kord Ball dug out his wrinkled Army uniform from a pile of clothes inside his Shelton trailer.

And for the first time in months, the disheveled staff sergeant mustered up the energy to shave and get a haircut.

That September 2018 morning was one of Ball's last days in the U.S. Army, after a decorated 10-year military career. But the 27-year-old didn't leave the service on good terms.

Army leaders at Joint Base Lewis McChord kicked Ball out of the service for misconduct because he failed a drug test for marijuana. He received an other-than-honorable discharge, which strips away his right to access veteran benefits, including long-term health care from the Department of Veteran Affairs.

But records show the behavior that got Ball in trouble was directly related to his diagnosed anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder -- medical conditions brought on by his military service. And now, the veteran doesn't have a right to access the long-term medical benefits he needs to heal.
read more here

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

Monday, November 5, 2018

Slogan of 22 Other Than Honorable Way for Veterans Day

Real Numbers Should Matter More Than Slogan Of 22

Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 5, 2018

With Veterans Day coming it is more troubling too many in this country have not had the opportunity to become aware of the other numbers that should matter more than a slogan, when the topic is veterans killing themselves.

For far too many veterans, their days are ended with a bullet, or a rope, drugs, car wrecks, a knife or facing off with police officers.

If you still have the number 22 stuck in your head, after you read this, maybe it will disgust you as much as it has sickened me all these years.

Here are just the facts. We need to begin with the group of veterans who pushed for all the research and funding on what war does to those we send.

Vietnam veterans were the first generation to make the battle to heal PTSD public. They were determined to #BreakTheSilence. 

Most servicemembers receive fully honorable discharges. However, 1.5 million have received less than fully honorable discharges since 1950.
That was from The Comptroller General report to Congress in 1980. That also means that they would not have been counted in any of the suicide reports being released since this decade.

One such veteran was John Shepherd Jr. and this report came out in 2012 on the Hartford Courant.
John Shepherd Jr. enlisted in the Army and earned a Bronze Star for valor fighting with the Ninth Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta in 1969. But after his platoon leader was killed while trying to help him out of a canal, Mr. Shepherd appeared to come undone, eventually refusing to go out on patrol. 
He was court-martialed and given an other-than-honorable discharge, making him ineligible for most veterans' benefits. He believes his behavior was the result of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. His immediate problem: PTSD wasn't recognized as a medical condition until 1980.
Why is that important? Because the Department of Veterans Affairs stated clearly, the majority of veterans committing suicide are over the age of 50.
None of those veterans would have been included within the "known" number of veterans committing suicide.

More were added to the omission of numbers that should have mattered. GAO again, released another report May 16, 2017.

GAO's analysis of Department of Defense (DOD) data show that 62 percent, or 57,141 of the 91,764 servicemembers separated for misconduct from fiscal years 2011 through 2015 had been diagnosed within the 2 years prior to separation with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), or certain other conditions that could be associated with misconduct. 
Specifically, 16 percent had been diagnosed with PTSD or TBI, while the other conditions, such as adjustment and alcohol-related disorders, were more common. 
Of the 57,141 servicemembers, 23 percent, or 13,283, received an “other than honorable” characterization of service, making them potentially ineligible for health benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 
GAO found that the military services' policies to address the impact of PTSD and TBI on separations for misconduct are not always consistent with DOD policy. For example, contrary to DOD policy, Navy policy does not require a medical examination—or screening—for certain servicemembers being separated in lieu of trial by court-martial to assess whether a PTSD or TBI diagnosis is a mitigating factor in the misconduct charged. 
This type of separation occurs when a servicemember facing a trial by court-martial requests, and is approved, to be discharged administratively. In addition, GAO found that two of the four military services have TBI training polices that are inconsistent with DOD policy. GAO also found that the Army and Marine Corps may not have adhered to their own screening, training, and counseling policies related to PTSD and TBI. 
For example, GAO found that 18 of the 48 nongeneralizable sample separation packets reviewed for Marine Corps servicemembers administratively separated for misconduct lacked documentation showing that the servicemember had been screened for PTSD and TBI. 
During interviews with Army officers, GAO found that some officers may not have received training to identify mild TBI symptoms, despite Army policy that all servicemembers should be trained. Further, GAO found instances in which both Army and Marine Corps may not have adhered to their counseling policies, which require that servicemembers, specifically prior to requesting separation in lieu of trial by court-martial, be counseled about their potential ineligibility for VA benefits and services. 
For 11 of the 48 separation packets included in GAO's analysis of Army servicemembers who requested separation in lieu of trial by court-martial, there was no documented evidence—or the evidence was unclear—as to whether the servicemembers received counseling.

KPPC in 2016 reported the number of "bad paper discharges" since 1990, was 615,000.

None of them would have been counted in the suicide data.

Getting back to the data itself, this chart shows the "known" suicides in the first VA Suicide report released in 2012.

This is from the latest report from the VA on known suicides.
As you can see, the percentages went up and the number of living veterans dropped by over 4 million. Again, as with all the reports, the majority of veterans committing suicide were over the age of 50, as well as the majority of the less than honorable discharges, were also of those older generations.

If you are among the veterans who were kicked out instead of treated, the VA is trying to find you~

VA Struggles To Reach Other-Than-Honorable-Discharge Vets In Need Of Help

Advocates Fault VA for Inadequate OutreachThe VA last year estimated there are more than 500,000 OTH vets. 
Nationally, 115 veterans have used the program, a figure that's disappointing to veterans advocates. They say it represents just a small fraction of the veterans who now qualify for mental health care. 
"It's not possible that that's the number of people who need help," said Kristofer Goldsmith, an Iraq vet who works with the Vietnam Veterans of America. "It's a failure to contact them, to fully inform them and to break the stigma." 
Vietnam Veterans of America lobbied the VA to help veterans with other-than-honorable discharges. 
"It's a program that most people who are eligible for don't know about, and the reason for that is that VA refused to do any outreach," said Vietnam Veterans of America executive director Rick Weidman.Weidman said there was an internal debate over whether the VA could pay to reach out to veterans who normally don't qualify for VA care.
After racking my brain for one more piece of all of this, is a report from Jacksonville Times Union going back to 2014. The report said that there were only 250,000 Vietnam veterans with "less than honorable discharges" and that "80,000" of them may be due to PTSD. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Widow fights for one of 2 million veterans not counted!

Widow’s fight: A 40-year-old suicide, a ‘bad paper’ discharge and marijuana

Herald Tribune
Bill Cox
October 28, 2018

A week before Christmas, Peter hanged himself from a tree in the woods near Walpole, Massachusetts. (1978)

Joanne Mills has been fighting to upgrade her husband’s 1971 ‘undesirable’ discharge from the Navy, which stemmed from a $10 bag of marijuana.
SARASOTA — Joanne Mills was all of 19, never had a boyfriend, when he sold her two pairs of shoes at the Thom McAn store in a Boston mall. “He had the most beautiful piercing blue eyes I’ve ever seen,” she recalls. She went home with buyer’s remorse — too expensive. She returned one pair hours later; the blue-eyed heartthrob was still working his shift. He asked her something like, do you ever go to the beach?

It was the summer of 1971, and Peter MacRoberts, 21, had a sky-blue two-door Ford Fairlane with a black ragtop. They went everywhere, day trips to Cape Cod, rock concerts, Frank Zappa, The Eagles, Chicago. He was a sports nut, loved to play baseball, cheer the Bosox at Fenway Park, and recite batting averages, ERAs.

But Peter was broken, and the full extent of it never became clear until much later. Even when she walked in on his unlocked apartment when they were still dating, and found him alone, electrical cord wrapped around his neck, racked with shame and despair — even then, Joanne underestimated its magnitude.

“I blocked out so much. I thought it was because we had broken up,” Joanne remembers. “But I never pursued it. I was just a kid. He made me promise I would never leave him.”
read more here

Keep this in mind the next time you hear about how many veterans committed suicide today. None of these veterans would be included in on any reported number, but families remember their names!

"In 2016, the Veterans Legal Clinic at Harvard Law School produced a study called “Underserved: How the VA Wrongfully Excludes Veterans with Bad Paper.” It found that since the Vietnam War, nearly 2 million veterans have been dispatched with general or less than honorable discharges. Such “bad paper” can inhibit or deny completely their access to VA services."
It is even higher now! 

Friday, June 29, 2018

How many veterans committing suicide is acceptable?

If this surprises you, you have not been paying attention.

Here are some things to consider from All Things Considered KUNC by Michael De Yoanna that came out today.
Each day about 20 veterans and active-duty service members take their own lives. It's a stubborn number that hasn't changed much since 2005. If the trend continues, 100,000 veterans and troops will have been lost to suicide by the end of this year.
(Actually the VA had to retract that part with the current military in the number)

They should have added the word "known" to that because we have tracked the ones who apparently, did not count. 
The 20-a-day rate has been relatively consistent since 2008. By that estimate, more than 58,000 veterans and troops have taken their own lives since 2008. Add roughly 20,000 more suicides for the three years prior to that, when the daily suicide rate was 19 a day (in 2007) and about 18 (in 2005 and 2006). Numbers for 2016, 2017 and 2018 are yet to be tallied. If they hold to 20 a day, by the end of this year the total number of suicides among veterans and troops will be more than 100,000 since 2005.
In one snapshot of the of the issue, Congress’ investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office, found that 57,000 Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines troops discharged between 2011 and 2015 for misconduct had post-traumatic stress disorder, brain injuries and other conditions, like adjustment, anxiety and depressive disorders. Of these troops, more than 20 percent, or about 13,000 of them, received “other than honorable” discharges, which made them potentially ineligible for veterans benefits, including access to health care for their conditions.
Actually that total is a lot higher too. Plus add in about 200,000 Vietnam veterans and you get the idea.

Only 22 states with the inclusion of California in 2017 track veteran suicides but when the first suicide report came out, the limited data came from just 21 states. No clue what the other states are doing with their veterans.

So what about all the others who did not count? The veterans who moved out of the country? Veterans who faced off with law enforcement and lost their lives. That happened on a weekly basis last year.

And now for what the headline was,
Some 78,000 Veterans And Troops Lost To Suicide Since 2005
Keep in mind that while the DOD puts out quarterly reports, about 90 days after the end of the quarter, the average is 500 a year, and has not gotten better either. That screams of the need to stop what does not work all the way through. But then again, as there seems to be more and more folks screaming about numbers, the number of living veterans continues to drop.

All that plus the calls into suicide prevention keep going up!

Still no answer from the DOD on what will be the one too many to change. No answer on how many veterans committing suicide is acceptable to them either!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

PTSD From Sexual Assaults

Washington Post finally picked up on this! (6/5)

More Vets Who Are Coping With PTSD From Sexual Assaults Get Honorable Discharges
Quil Lawrence
June 1, 2018
"I still have nightmares about it," he told NPR in 2016. "I am 45 years old, and I still have that vision in my head."
Heath Phillips says the trauma of being sexually assaulted drove him to alcoholism and to go AWOL. Three decades later, the military has agreed to upgrade his discharge to honorable. Courtesy of Heath Phillips
Sexual assault is still a major issue for the military. Reports rose by 10 percent last year, though there is some discussion about whether that is an increase in the number of assaults or an increased willingness of troops to come forward and report them. That would be an improvement because victims of rape in the military often face retaliation, sometimes even a less than honorable discharge from the military.

Among those veterans there is another number that is going up: the people getting their records corrected to show they served honorably.

Sexual assault and harassment affects female troops at a higher rate. But because the military is still mostly male, it's men who make up a much larger number of victims among the thousands of sexual assaults each year. Women report the crime more than twice as much as men.

This makes Heath Phillips, who speaks publicly about his experience, rare.

Phillips was sexually assaulted repeatedly by a group of sailors right after he joined the Navy.
read more here

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Soldier attempted suicide, kicked out and saw hope killed

Veterans with offenses struggling to find jobs
The Associated Press
May 26, 2018
"You may as well be a felon when you're looking for a job," said Iraq War veteran Kristofer Goldsmith, who said the Army gave him a general discharge in 2007 because he attempted suicide.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Military veterans who were discharged for relatively minor offenses say they often can't get jobs, and they hope a recent warning to employers by the state of Connecticut will change that.
In this May 9, 2018 photo, Iraq War veteran Kristofer Goldsmith, sits in a campus park after his last final exam of the semester at Columbia University in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
The state's human-rights commission told employers last month that they could be breaking the law if they discriminate against veterans with some types of less-than-honorable discharges. Blanket policies against hiring such veterans could be discriminatory, the commission said, because the military has issued them disproportionately to black, Hispanic, gay and disabled veterans.

At least one other state, Illinois, already prohibits hiring discrimination based on a veteran's discharge status, advocates say, but Connecticut appears to be the first to base its decision on what it deems discrimination by the military.
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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.
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