PBS News Hour
June 16, 2016
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now to a major change being made by the U.S. Navy that will affect servicemen suffering from one of the unseen wounds of war.
John Yang has that.
JOHN YANG: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have killed thousands of American servicemen and maimed and injured tens of thousands more, but some wounds are not as easily seen or identified.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD afflicts as much as one-fifth of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in any given year. Compounding the affliction, personnel who were kicked out of the military because of erratic behavior caused by PTSD, by traumatic brain injury, called TBI, or by other mental health conditions often lose their benefits, including access to veterans health care.
But that will now change for at least one of the services, navy personnel, sailors and Marines, under a new policy enacted by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.
RAY MABUS: The policy that we had been operating under was, if somebody committed misconduct, the erratic behavior you were talking about, that took preference over everything else in terms of a discharge.
And so people would get discharged with bad paper, with discharges that didn’t give them any benefits when they left. What we have done with policy that I have just signed was to say, if you’re being administratively discharged for some misconduct, we’re going to take a look to see if you have got a diagnosable condition, to see if you have got PTSD, to see if you have got traumatic brain injury, and then that will factor in, so that you may still be discharged, but you will be discharged with benefits, with help that we’re going to recognize the reason for this erratic behavior and give you help after you leave the military.
And it’s not just for combat injuries, combat wounds. It’s also for things like sexual assault that is often followed by PTSD.
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