Stand Up: A's pitcher Sean Doolittle's quest to properly help veterans with "bad paper"Sports Illustrated
SEAN DOOLITTLE AND EIREANN DOLAN
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.
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