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

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

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Yale Law School giving PTSD veterans fighting chance for justice

Suit Calls Navy Board Biased Against Veterans With PTSD
New York Times
Dave Philipps
March 2, 2018
The office that oversees discharges for the Navy and Marines, the Naval Discharge Review Board, rejects nearly 85 percent of requests for upgrades relating to PTSD, compared with 45 percent for the Army board.

Things got ugly for Cpl. Tyson Manker in Iraq. During a firefight in the confusion of the 2003 invasion, the 21-year-old Marine shot up a bus full of civilians. Later, during a chase, he dropped an Iraqi in a flowing white robe with a shot to the torso, only to discover afterward that he had hit a teenage girl. His squad beat detainees, and accidentally shot several other civilians.

After his deployment, Corporal Manker was kicked out of the Marine Corps with an other-than-honorable discharge — not for anything that happened in combat, but for smoking marijuana to try to quiet his nerves when he got home.

The military has increasingly acknowledged in recent years that there are tens of thousands of Corporal Mankers — troops whose brutal experiences left them with post-traumatic stress disorder, and who were then pushed out of the military for misconduct. Many were given other-than-honorable discharges that stripped them of veterans’ benefits.

The Army and Air Force have moved in recent years to make it easier for these veterans to get their discharges upgraded to honorable. But not the Marine Corps. read more here

Good time to be reminded of the fact, if they did not receive an "honorable discharge" and ended up committing suicide, they were not counted by anyone other than those who loved them!

And Yale fought for Army veterans too.
Veterans Clinic Files Nationwide Class-Action Lawsuit on Behalf of Army Veterans
Yale Law School

April 17, 2017

Two Army veterans, Steve Kennedy and Alicia Carson, filed a federal class-action lawsuit on Monday seeking relief for the thousands of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health conditions during their military service and received unfair less-than-Honorable discharges. The plaintiffs are represented by Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic.

Since September 11, 2001, hundreds of thousands of veterans have received less-than-Honorable (“bad paper”) discharges imposing a lifetime stigma, impairing their employment prospects, and denying them access to critical government services, including the GI bill, mental health treatment, and disability benefits. Tens of thousands received these bad paper discharges as a result of misconduct attributable to conditions like PTSD and traumatic brain injury.

“As my PTSD became impossible to manage on my own, my commander told me that the only way I could receive treatment was by leaving the Army with a bad paper discharge,” said plaintiff Steve Kennedy, leader of the Connecticut chapter of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “Just like that, the Army wiped away years of distinguished service to my country and deemed it less than Honorable.”

Even worse, after their discharge the Army regularly denies these veterans a second chance, according to the lawsuit. While Congress created an agency called the Army Discharge Review Board (ADRB) to help veterans upgrade their unjustly harsh discharges after returning to civilian life, the clinic said the ADRB has systematically failed veterans for decades.
read more here

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Other-Than-Honorable Discharge Attributable To 'Invisible Wounds'...Yep!

Advocates Seek Benefits For Vets With Other-Than-Honorable Discharge Attributable To 'Invisible Wounds'
Hartford Courant
Sandra Gomez-Aceves
February 14, 2018

At 20 years old, Thomas Burke sat on an Afghan riverbank with the barrel of his rifle in his mouth. By then, he had experienced the tragedies of war — he had seen children blow up in an attempt to help American forces and had been left to pick up their remains and place them in the back of trailer — but his deployment wouldn’t end for another three months.
File photo. Veterans who receive other-than-honorable discharge are barred from accessing state benefits and programs accessible to other veterans. (Richard Messina, Hartford Courant)

Burke, now 28, a native of Bethel and a soon-to-be Yale University graduate, was saved by a fellow marine “who followed me out to nowhere” and embraced him in a hug.

After experiencing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Burke returned home with substance-abuse disorders and combat-induced post-traumatic stress disorder. In an effort to get help, Burke took an other-than-honorable discharge in exchange for rehabilitation, he said.

In Connecticut, though, his other-than-honorable discharge barred him from accessing vital state benefits available to more than 200,000 other veterans.
read more here

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Air Force Veteran Fights Wrongful 90!

The Air Force expelled her in 1955 for being a lesbian. Now, at 90, she is fighting back
The Washington Post
Kyle Swenson
January 11, 2018

Her military career was over when she inked her name on the document. On March 3, 1955, James received an “undesirable” discharge from the Air Force.
Helen James at her home in California. 
(Courtesy of Helen James)

The barracks were thick with anxious whispers and rumors, but she figured there was nothing incriminating about leaving the air base for a sandwich.
On a Friday night in 1955, Airman Second Class Helen Grace James and another female service member left the field after work for dinner in a nearby town. The place was too crowded to sit down, so after getting food the two drove the wooded area south of where Hempstead Harbor stabs into Long Island. They found a quiet spot to eat. James cut the engine. She was reaching for her sandwich when flashlight beams ignited the car interior. Air Police. From the base. They had been followed.
“They asked us what we were doing,” James recently told The Washington Post.
James went on to a very successful life after the military. But she never fully pulled free from the experience. Now, at 90, and living in California, she’s fighting to right the historical wrong with a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Air Force. The complaint asks the court to upgrade her discharge to “honorable,” thus restoring the California woman’s rights and honor as a more here

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Reason why they don't ask for help...getting kicked out!

We tell them they need to ask for help but when they do, too many end up regretting it. If you want to know one more reason why they come home suffering more, here is one of the biggest reasons.

Suffering from a ‘Personality Disorder’: How My Promising Military Career Was Cut Short by a Dubious Diagnosis

Huff Post
Joshua Korsbr
January 6, 2016
In March, Senior Airman Nicole Dawson called me and pleaded for help.

Dawson had served three years with the Air Force and won multiple commendations for her service as a medic at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. Her success was cut short when she sought out medical care herself, requesting some counseling following a family tragedy. Soon she was diagnosed with “personality disorder,” declared unfit to serve, and discharged from the military.

Since 2006, I have been reporting on these “personality disorder” discharges, which the military is using to terminate the careers of service members seriously wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, or those who report being raped during their service, or those like Dawson who simply seek out care from the base’s medical facility.

Because personality disorder is a pre-existing condition, the military can deny these service members a lifetime’s worth of disability and medical benefits. Since 2001, the Armed Forces has discharged over 31,000 service members with personality disorder, at a savings to the military of over $17.2 billion in disability and medical benefits.

Dawson had read my articles and watched my TED talk about the scandal. She asked me, “Would you tell my story?” Instead, I connected her with Disposable Warriors, a nonprofit organization that assists soldiers discharged with personality disorder. And I offered her this: the opportunity to tell her own story, here, in HuffPost.

Sadly, to my command, CMRN’s medical evaluation had no value at all. On March 24 the Air Force discharged me under code JFX: Discharge due to Personality more here
Read her story and then understand that she did everything experts, and oh, by the way, military brass keeps saying then need to do. Next suicide report when they act dumfounded as to why there are so many, remember this story.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

UK: Hundreds of Troops Kicked Out With PTSD

Hundreds of soldiers kicked out of the Army because they were suffering from PTSD and depression
The Mirror
Sean Rayment
December 23, 2017
In the reply, Mr Ellwood admitted almost one in five of all troops medically discharged from the Army in the 12 months to April had mental illness.
Trevor Coult ended up homeless and attempted suicide after he was discharged following his PTSD diagnosis (Image: PA)
There were 499 soldiers with mental health problems kicked out of the Army last year, a ­defence chief has admitted.

Troops suffering illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety were told they were no longer fit to serve.

Many who were medically ­discharged say that losing their jobs and often homes made their illness worse, driving some to the brink of ­suicide. The disclosure was made in a letter from defence minister Tobias Ellwood to decorated hero Trevor Coult, a staff sergeant shown the door after developing PTSD.

Trevor won the Military Cross after killing three would-be suicide bombers in Iraq. He wrote to the MoD urging better treatment for PTSD sufferers.
He said: “I was sent home on sick leave and no one contacted me for 11 months. Then I got a ­letter saying my employment was being terminated and I had 28 days to vacate my MoD ­property or I’d be evicted and my family moved to sheltered ­accommodation. I was devastated. My salary of £36,000 had gone and I was homeless. I became depressed quickly and attempted ­suicide. The money I received from the MoD lasted just a couple of months.

“We now know hundreds of ­soldiers with PTSD are being forced out every year and the Government washes its hands of them. They need help and support.”
read more here

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Less Than Honorable Way to Treat Veterans

If you are in the "awareness" business talking about how many veterans you think are committing suicide, this is something you really should read. Especially if you are still using a number and only mentioning it as if it is just veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq. 

If a veteran does not receive an "honorable discharge" they cannot even call themselves a veteran. It does not go on their death certificate, no matter how many times they were deployed, how many countries they risked their lives in because this country sent them or how heroic they were.

That includes those who have been in combat, risked their lives for this country, suffered because of it, and then, instead of being helped, they were kicked out.

The numbers are into the hundreds of thousands when you consider it has happened to all generations, including the ones that "awareness" folks never seem to mention. 

Steve Kennedy, Army veteran and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America- Connecticut Team Leader (left) speaks about U.S. Senator Chris Murphy's proposed legislation, Honor Our Commitment Act, to ensure combat veterans discharged with an other-than-honorable discharge are given access to mental and behavioral health care during a press conference at New Haven City Hall on 4/3/2017. Left to right are Kennedy, Murphy and Tom Burke, Marine Corp veteran and President of the Yale Student Veterans Council. (Arnold Gold - New Haven Register.)

Chris Murphy: How our country is leaving veterans with mental health injuries behind

Jasper Farmer, a Norwalk resident and Vietnam veteran, recently shared his story with me. 
Jasper served in the Marines during the Vietnam War. He returned to Camp Lejeune over a year later, clearly struggling with PTSD. 
Because of conduct resulting from his diagnosis, he was given a bad paper discharge.  
For the next forty years, he was denied care at the VA, preventing him from adequately addressing his war injury.
Luckily, Jasper found the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center (CVLC). Their staff fights tirelessly on behalf of veterans, and finally this past April, with the help of CVLC, Jasper gained access to VA health care. 
But it shouldn’t have taken smart lawyers and almost four decades to right this wrong.

Monday, November 6, 2017

What Happens To Betrayed Veterans?

Kicked Out Instead of Helped?
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 6, 2017

One more thing some think about on Veterans Day, is the day they got kicked out and became part of the forgotten veterans we never acknowledge.

If you were kicked out of the military for having PTSD or TBI, you are far from alone! If your family doubts what you've been telling them, show them this!

To everyone else, what do we owe to the men and women kicked out of the military because they received the "unseen" wounds of PTSD and TBI?

That is yet one more thing we never really talk about when we read about the numbers of veterans we think committed suicide on any given day.

We don't think about the data the VA is missing from their suicide counts, like some states do not track military service, and were not included in on any count. 

What makes that even worse is when someone served in the military but ended up kicked out and left out of all accounts. How many of these veterans decided to commit suicide?  
Our analysis of DOD data shows that 91,764 servicemembers were separated for misconduct from fiscal years 2011 through 2015; of these servicemembers, 57,141—62 percent—had been diagnosed within the 2 years prior to their separation with PTSD, TBI, or certain other conditions that could be associated with misconduct.

More specifically, 16 percent, or 14,816 of the 91,764 servicemembers who were separated for misconduct, had been diagnosed with PTSD or TBI.  
Looking at the conditions individually, 8 percent had been diagnosed with PTSD and 11 percent had been diagnosed with TBI, while other conditions, such as adjustment and alcohol-related disorders were more common.

The 57,141 servicemembers who were separated for misconduct and diagnosed within the 2 years prior to separation with PTSD, TBI, or certain other conditions had, on average, 4 years of active military service. Almost all, or 98 percent, were enlisted servicemembers, rather than officers, and two-thirds had not been deployed overseas within the 2 years prior to separation.

We will probably never know what we let happen to them after they were willing to die for the sake of others.

It is bad enough most of the charities should be sued for deceptive advertising when they avoid mentioning most of the veterans committing suicide are over the age of 50, which they heartlessly ignore, but they dare to talk about PTSD as if it didn't exist until now.

Some talk about 1 out of 5 OEF and OIF veterans with PTSD but none talk about how it was 1 out of 3 Vietnam veterans.

One more thing we don't talk about when Vietnam veterans are being pinned and given parties, is that there were,
"... approximately 250,000 Vietnam-era veterans received less-than-honorable discharges, and as many as 80,000 of those service members could be eligible for PTSD-related benefits.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Pentagon Says TBI and PTSD Troops Not Getting Proper Care...Again

Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on suicides is one of those videos that everyone needed to watch, but hey, Facebook is more fun. Right? Then again, August 14, 2007 I was wondering why the press wasn't on suicide watch so that maybe, just maybe someone would have done something that would have actually worked. Then again, that was assuming they wanted to do what would work instead of what was easiest.

Troops at risk for suicide not getting needed care, report finds
Tom Vanden Brook
Published Aug. 7, 2017

WASHINGTON — Pentagon health care providers failed to perform critical follow-up for many troops diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome who also were at high risk for suicide, according to a new study released Monday by the RAND Corp.

Just 30% of troops with depression and 54% with PTSD received appropriate care after they were deemed at risk of harming themselves. The report, commissioned by the Pentagon, looked at the cases of 39,000 troops who had been diagnosed in 2013 with depression, PTSD or both conditions. USA TODAY received an advance copy of the report.

“We want to ensure that they get connected with behavioral health care,” said Kimberly Hepner, the report’s lead author and a senior behavioral scientist at RAND, a non-partisan, non-profit research organization. “The most immediate action — removal of firearms — can help to reduce risk of suicide attempts.”
The report, titled Quality of Care for PTSD and Depression in the Military Health System, also found that one third of troops with PTSD were prescribed with a medication harmful to their condition.
From 2001 to 2014, about 2.6 million troops have deployed to combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq. Estimates on how many have been affected by post-traumatic stress vary widely — from 4% to 20%, according to the report. Meanwhile, suicide among troops spiked crisis proportions. The rate of suicide doubled between 2005 and 2012, according to the Pentagon. It has stabilized but has not diminished; the rate remains about the same for the part of the American public that it compares with, about 20 per 100,000 people.

The key intervention to prevent suicide involves talking to the service member about their access to firearms, Hepner said. It’s also one of the most sensitive, given the nature of their work and that many troops own their own guns.

“This is important for service members because suicide death by firearms is the most common method,” Hepner said. “So the provider needs to have that discussion about access to firearms. Not only their service weapon but their access to personal weapons.”
read more here
Then again, all you had to do was read THE WARRIOR SAW, SUICIDES AFTER WAR, but don't feel bad. No one else read it, or did anything about any of it.

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!

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Vietnam Veterans Still Fighting For Justice For All Generations

"Vietnam Veterans of American called the GAO report “immensely disturbing” and again called on President Trump to pardon affected veterans." From GAO report on The Hill

But fighting for justice is something Vietnam veterans know all too well. In 2014 the Hartford Courant reported that there were 70,000 Vietnam veterans with PTSD also kicked out. It was because of Conley Monk fighting for justice that then Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel decided to do something about it. In case your wondering, Monk fought for 43 years!!!!
GAO: Thousands discharged for military misconduct had mental health diagnosisThe HillBY REBECCA KHEEL05/16/17

The top government watchdog said Tuesday that nearly a quarter of U.S. troops discharged for misconduct were given other-than-honorable discharges despite previously being diagnosed with a mental health condition.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) in its report faulted branches of the Department of Defense (DOD) for having policies inconsistent with — or poor enforcement of — official Pentagon rules for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or sexual trauma. 
Such discharges haunt veterans for the rest of their lives, advocates say, by denying them veterans benefits and casting a stigma that can affect civilian life, such as finding employment.

According to the GAO, 57,141 of the 91,764 troops separated for misconduct from 2011 through 2015 had been diagnosed with PTSD, TBI or another condition at least two years before their discharge.

Of those with a diagnosis, 13,283, or about 23 percent, received other-than-honorable discharges.

Among the inconsistencies found by the GAO, the Navy does not require a medical exam for certain sailors being separated in lieu of court-martial to determine whether a PTSD or TBI diagnosis is a mitigating factor in the misconduct. Such an exam is Pentagon policy.

The Army and Marine Corps, meanwhile, may not follow to their own screening, training and counseling policies, according to the more here
Well then, I guess that is supposed to say it all, but not even close to covering how many veterans served, were wounded and then betrayed. You know, the ones members of Congress have known about all along.
Translation: they got kicked out of the military without an Honorable Discharge.

According to data obtained by KPCC from the Defense Manpower Data Center, more than 615,000 Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force veterans were discharged with less-than-honorable discharges from 1990-2015.

Monday, April 17, 2017

PTSD Army Veterans in Connecticut Sue Over Bad Discharges...And Treatment

Lawsuit: Army should factor PTSD in discharge decisions
Associated Press
April 17, 2017

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A federal lawsuit alleges the U.S. Army has issued less-than-honorable discharges for potentially thousands of service members without adequately considering the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions.

Two Army veterans from Connecticut who served in Iraq and Afghanistan say in the lawsuit filed Monday in New Haven that they were wrongly denied honorable discharges.

They say a review board set up to give veterans a second chance often doesn't do an adequate job in considering PTSD and related conditions. Acting Army Secretary Robert Speer is named as the defendant.
read more here

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Ditched Troubled Veterans Thrown Out, Thrown Lifeline

A Lifeline for Troubled Veterans
New York Times
MARCH 11, 2017
There are roughly 500,000 veterans with less than honorable discharges, including more than 100,000 who left the service during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The government does not know what percentage of these veterans have acute mental health problems, but it became apparent after the Iraq drawdown that many were struggling.
Credit Caroline Gamon
After the United States withdrew troops from Iraq in 2011, thousands of combat troops were expelled from the force with less than honorable discharges as the military came under pressure to downsize quickly. This left a large number of veterans — including many kicked out for minor infractions — without access to health care and other benefits that are granted to service members who leave the armed forces with honorable discharges.

After being cut off from care and benefits, many turned to drugs and painkillers, often to relieve physical pain and mental distress that resulted from combat. Some wound up homeless. Others killed themselves.

Last week, the Department of Veterans Affairs took an important, belated step to protect tens of thousands of former service members who risked their lives in war zones. Starting this summer, the agency decided, it will provide emergency mental health care to some veterans who received less than honorable discharges.

“Our goal is simple: to save lives,” David Shulkin, the secretary of veterans affairs, said on Tuesday as he announced the change in policy during testimony before the House Veterans Affairs Committee. “Veterans who are in crisis should receive help immediately.”
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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Veterans With Bad Discharges Get Mental Health Help Finally

VA Secretary Announces Intention to Expand Mental Health Care to Former Service members With Other-than-honorable Discharges and in Crisis

WASHINGTON – Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin while testifying in a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on March 7, 2017, announced his intention to expand provisions for urgent mental health care needs to former service members with other-than-honorable (OTH) administrative discharges. This move marks the first time a VA Secretary has implemented an initiative 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 president and I have made it clear that suicide prevention is one or our top priorities," Shulkin said. “We know 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. This is a national emergency that requires bold action. We must and we 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.”

It is estimated that there are a little more than 500,000 former service members with OTH discharges. As part of the proposal, former OTH service members would be able to seek treatment at a VA emergency department, Vet Center or contact the Veterans Crisis Line.

“Our goal is simple: to save lives,” Shulkin continued. “Veterans who are in crisis should receive help immediately. Far too many Veterans have fallen victim to suicide, roughly 20 every day. Far too many families are left behind asking themselves what more could have been done. The time for action is now.”

Before finalizing the plan in early summer, Shulkin will meet with Congress, Veterans Service Organizations, and Department of Defense officials to determine the best way forward to get these Veterans the care they need.

“I look forward to working with leaders like Congressman Mike Coffman from Colorado, who has been a champion for OTH service members,” Shulkin added. I am grateful for his commitment to our nation’s Veterans and for helping me better understand the urgency of getting this right.”

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

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.
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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Veterans With Bad Discharges Get Fighting Chance

Tampa, Florida Veterans Lawyer Comments Need for Veterans to be Honorably Discharged
Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire)
January 26, 2017

Many veterans who were diagnosed with mental problems or traumatic brain injury have received less-than-honorable discharges. But such a discharge can result in the denial of veterans’ benefits, thereby causing these veterans to become homeless, imprisoned, develop substance abuse or commit suicide.

In an effort to assist these veterans, the Vietnam Veterans Association of America wrote President Obama asking him to pardon all post-9/11 veterans who received less-than-honorable discharges without the due process of a court-martial. They are making the same request of President-elect Donald Trump.

Prominent Tampa, Florida veterans lawyer David Magann says, “Veterans who have received less-than-honorable discharges because they suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental illnesses are entitled to receive an honorable discharge.” “They should not lose their Veterans Affairs health benefits or GI bill education benefits.”

As reported in Shelbyville Daily Union, one such victim of this policy is Kristofer Goldsmith, who enlisted in the army a short time after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In a little over two years, he was promoted to sergeant, and spent a full year in Baghdad. However, upon his return home, he had to drink in order to sleep, and he spent time in isolation so he would not hurt his family and friends in the event he had an abrupt fit of anger. Then, when he attempted to commit suicide, the Army gave him a less-than-honorable discharge for severe misconduct. He was not found guilty by a court marshal.
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