If a veteran does not receive an "honorable discharge" they cannot even call themselves a veteran. It does not go on their death certificate, no matter how many times they were deployed, how many countries they risked their lives in because this country sent them or how heroic they were.
That includes those who have been in combat, risked their lives for this country, suffered because of it, and then, instead of being helped, they were kicked out.
The numbers are into the hundreds of thousands when you consider it has happened to all generations, including the ones that "awareness" folks never seem to mention.
Steve Kennedy, Army veteran and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America- Connecticut Team Leader (left) speaks about U.S. Senator Chris Murphy's proposed legislation, Honor Our Commitment Act, to ensure combat veterans discharged with an other-than-honorable discharge are given access to mental and behavioral health care during a press conference at New Haven City Hall on 4/3/2017. Left to right are Kennedy, Murphy and Tom Burke, Marine Corp veteran and President of the Yale Student Veterans Council. (Arnold Gold - New Haven Register.)
Jasper Farmer, a Norwalk resident and Vietnam veteran, recently shared his story with me.
Jasper served in the Marines during the Vietnam War. He returned to Camp Lejeune over a year later, clearly struggling with PTSD.
Because of conduct resulting from his diagnosis, he was given a bad paper discharge.
For the next forty years, he was denied care at the VA, preventing him from adequately addressing his war injury.
Luckily, Jasper found the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center (CVLC). Their staff fights tirelessly on behalf of veterans, and finally this past April, with the help of CVLC, Jasper gained access to VA health care.
But it shouldn’t have taken smart lawyers and almost four decades to right this wrong.