Federal News Radio
September 19, 2016
Of those 394, an internal audit identified 73 cases where there was no evidence that commanders even considered whether PTSD or TBI was a factor in the underlying offense that prompted their discharge.The Army is reexamining the cases of at least 73 soldiers who it kicked out under other-than-honorable circumstances between 2009 and 2015 because it may have run afoul of a federal law intended to help ensure troops aren’t punished for mental health issues that were actually caused by their military service.
At issue is a provision in the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that requires all the military branches to consider whether service-connected behavioral health might have played a role in whatever misconduct officials are using as their reasoning for separating a military member.
Any service member who’s served in a combat zone in the previous two years and who’s also been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury is supposed to receive additional scrutiny before commanders discharge him or her for a law or rule violation — particularly since a less-than-honorable discharge makes them ineligible for mental health treatment or any other veterans benefits.
Eric Fanning, the secretary of the Army, formally notified Congress in an Aug. 25 letter that the service had identified a total of 394 soldiers who had PTSD or TBI diagnoses in their medical records, were sent home with less-than-honorable discharges and had deployed to serve in contingency operations sometime in the 24 months before they were kicked out. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) released the letter late last week.
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