Leo Shane III
March 7, 2016
In the past, that decision covered only a select group of Vietnam veterans. The new memo would expand that to all veterans, and waive statutes of limitations for those appeals.Lawmakers want to avoid having troops disgracefully forced from the ranks because of behavior related to post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injuries, but Pentagon officials may already be on the way to fixing the problem.
Last week, a coalition of Republican and Democratic lawmakers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan introduced legislation to ensure that military discharge review boards must consider troops’ mental health issues, and must accept a PTSD or TBI diagnosis from a professional as an acceptable rebuttal to a dismissal.
The move could affect thousands of military discharges each year and open the door for a review of more. Army officials have confirmed that at least 22,000 combat veterans have received less-than-honorable discharges since 2009, many for minor offenses like alcohol use or lateness.
For some troops, those infractions are a sign of untreated issues like PTSD and TBI. A less-than-honorable discharge severely limits the care and support options for those veterans, leaving them with decreased medical support and an increased risk of suicide.
“Those discharges could be a death sentence for these veterans,” said Kris Goldsmith, an advocate behind the legislative push.
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