AM NEW YORK
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.
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