Posted on Dec 29, 2015
SGT Infantryman (Airborne)
13K
84
49
11
11
0
I couldn't get a link, so I had to post this entire story. From Military.com

ST. LOUIS -- No medical or mental health care. No subsidized college or work training. For many who leave the U.S. military with less-than-honorable discharges, including thousands who suffered injuries and anguish in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, standard veterans benefits are off limits.

The discharge serves as a scarlet letter of dishonor, and the effects can be severe: Ex-military members with mental health problems or post-traumatic stress disorder can't turn to Veterans Affairs hospitals or clinics; those who want to go to college aren't eligible for the GI Bill; the jobless get no assistance for career training; the homeless are excluded from vouchers.

"It's an indelible mark of their service that follows them for the rest of their lives into the workforce, through background checks, social relationships, and it precludes them from getting the kind of support that most veterans enjoy," said Phil Carter, an Iraq War vet and senior fellow at the Center for A New American Security.

The Department of Defense said of nearly 207,000 people who left the military last year, just 9 percent received what's referred to as "bad paper." Still, that's more than 18,000 people last year and more than 352,000 since 2000, Defense Department data shows.
U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican who's on the House Armed Services Committee, believes many of those men and women suffered battle-related problems that affected their behavior, especially PTSD and traumatic brain injury. A 2005 study showed Marines deployed to combat who were diagnosed with PTSD were 11 times more likely to receive less-than-honorable discharges, said Brad Adams, an attorney who works with the San Francisco-based organization Swords to Plowshares.
Varying levels of bad paper discharges exist. A general discharge is for those whose service was generally satisfactory, but who engaged in minor misconduct or received non-judicial punishment. Recipients are usually eligible for VA medical and dental services, VA home loans and burial in national cemeteries, but can't receive educational benefits through the GI Bill.

Virtually no post-military benefits are available below that level.
An other-than-honorable discharge is an administrative action for those with behavior problems such as violence or use of illegal drugs. A bad conduct discharge is punishment for a military crime, and dishonorable discharges are for offenses such as murder or desertion. With those discharges, the VA doesn't consider the former service members veterans for the purposes of VA benefits.

"There is a small percentage of folks who were court-martialed and convicted, and they have earned their bad paper," Carter said. "The vast majority of this population was discharged administratively, generally because of some minor misconduct."
Maj. Ben Sakrisson, a Defense Department spokesman, said there is "substantial due process" for all cases where people receive a less-than-honorable discharge. Its statistics show that last year, 4,143 service members received other-than-honorable discharges, 637 received bad conduct discharges and 157 were dishonorably discharged.

Once people are discharged, the Department of Veterans Affairs can extend medical and mental health benefits on a case-by-case basis to those whose disabilities were service-connected, the VA said.
But Adams said that recourse is help to very few. "The onus is on the veteran," he said. "The standards have imposed a very high burden."
Josh Redmyer, 30, served in the Marines for seven years, including three stints in Iraq, where he watched a close friend die and developed PTSD. Redmyer said he developed alcohol and drug addictions that led to bad behavior, and he received an other-than-honorable discharge in 2012. He said he's survived suicide attempts and "near-death" overdoses.
Now living in California, Redmyer's working as a delivery driver and trying to restore his VA medical benefits. He said he takes responsibility for "mistake after mistake after mistake," but can't understand how someone who risked his life for his country can't get treatment for PTSD.
"What it did to my life after what I gave to them, I don't think it's ethical or moral or fair," he said.

Studies show those who are less-than-honorably discharged are far more likely to end up in prison than honorably discharged veterans, and more likely to be suicidal. Jobs are harder to get because background checks highlight an undesirable military discharge.
"They have a hard time maintaining employment and navigating the transition back to civilian life," said Jamison Fargo, associate professor of psychology at Utah State University.

An analysis published this fall in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which Fargo co-wrote, tracked nearly 450,000 VA patients who served in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 to 2011. While 5.6 percent had general discharges for misconduct, they accounted for 28.1 percent of those who'd been homeless within their first year out of the military. That didn't even take into account those with discharges that made them ineligible for VA care, and who were potentially more likely to be homeless.
Sakrisson said the Defense Department has made a "concerted effort" to assist those with PTSD who seek to have their discharge upgraded, through media campaigns, outreach to advocacy groups and military service organizations, even tracking down homeless ex-service members identified by the VA.
Coffman said a better approach would be for the military to work with troubled service members earlier, so more leave with honorable discharges.
And while being discharged for bad behavior might draw little sympathy, Adams said, "We're talking about people who have deployed multiple times, served in combat. That has to account for something."
Avatar_feed
Responses: 14
Cpl Chad Perry
20
20
0
I work at the VA and I have seen many veterans with other than honorable or bad conduct discharges be deemed "honorable for VA proposes" if their mental condition or head injury led to their misconduct. On the other hand, if the veteran is just a shit bird that deserted, had a pattern of misconduct, or was a drug/alcohol rehab failure there's not much hope. The laws are pretty cut and dry.
(20)
Comment
(0)
SFC Msa
SFC (Join to see)
>1 y
I work for the VA as well and I concur
(0)
Reply
(0)
SGT Infantryman (Airborne)
SGT (Join to see)
>1 y
I go to the VA and I concur too. It's weird to be in a group session and a Federal police officer comes in and arrests one of group members. Nobody knows why, and he's never seen again.
(0)
Reply
(0)
Avatar_small
Capt Mark Strobl
7
7
0
SGT (Join to see) - Joe American slaps a "Support Our Troops" sticker on the family roadster. Maybe he wraps a yellow ribbon on the tree out front of his suburban home. But, when it comes to saving the coveted taxpayers dollars, that friendly nod to our fighting force is goes no further. As we enter the election year, any candidate that can show a billion dollars in savings is going to fare well in the polls. Being mindful of service-related issues that lead to bad behavior (PTSD), the American taxpayer really doesn't want to fund veterans who earned less than the Honorable discharge. The majority of constituents have never, currently don't, and will never empathize with service-related injuries & issues. It doesn't impact them. They don't care.

The Honorable Mr. Michael Coffman "gets it." But, he's a Marine. He'll continue to get my vote in Colorado's 6th District. Unfortunately, he's subject to election results... and will, accordingly, pander to his constituency.
(7)
Comment
(0)
SGT Infantryman (Airborne)
SGT (Join to see)
>1 y
Capt Mark Strobl, I understand 100%. Even though they served honorably, but screwed the pooch, really bad, before getting out, shouldn't be entitled to an HD. Receiving an HD means you followed orders and rules of military service without any problems.
(1)
Reply
(0)
Avatar_small
1SG Claims Assistant
6
6
0
I believe firmly that on OTH, BCD, and DD should have real teeth. It takes real malfeasance to get one of these discharges.
Having said that, I also think commanders need to think long and hard about how they characterize service when a case such as this crosses their desk. That SSG with four deployments whose wife left him and he went out and got a DUI... did he screw up? Yes.
Should he pay the price? Yes.
Is it more than a little likely that this chain of events is related? Of course it is.
(6)
Comment
(0)
SSG Robert White
SSG Robert White
4 y
8/83-10/844, then went to Bad Aibling from 10/84-4/85, then back to Augsburg from 4/85-4/86. I was in 1st Ops, then 2nd Ops. I worked in the B2 and B5 except in my last 4 years when I switched out with someone I knew from Korea and worked on the floor.
(0)
Reply
(0)
1SG Claims Assistant
1SG (Join to see)
4 y
SSG Robert White - No kidding? Did you happen to know a SP6 or SP7 with the same name as me? That'd be my dad. He was in HHC, Field Station Augsburg.
(0)
Reply
(0)
SSG Robert White
SSG Robert White
>1 y
1SG (Join to see) - There is a Yahoo group called Augsburg2ndOPS. You can have your dad contact them. They have reunions all over the country. There will be one soon in the Washington DC Metro Area (to include NSA) in a couple of months.
(1)
Reply
(0)
1SG Claims Assistant
1SG (Join to see)
4 mo
SSG Robert White - Revisiting this thread after some time away and someone interacted with it, I think it is fair to add that I touch about 100 VA claims cases a day. By my math, I have now surpassed your 11k claims figure.

Revisiting our back and forth, I can affirm that my position still stands. The most important thing is that the Soldier is hemmed up and in the crosshairs. He did something bad to be a candidate for an OTH, BCD, or DD. The latter two require a conviction by Court-Marshal. The former is a pattern of misconduct (NJP-level stuff) or a hot UA. The Soldier is no-crap wrong. The question remains what should a commander do when recommending character of service, and what the Soldier should do when accepting or appealing that characterization.
I will allow that there are cases of injustice out there. If you've been in the military long enough, you have seen or at least heard of some. For those, there is a process of appeal to the Board of Military Corrections and/or they can apply for an upgrade to their service record.
You came at me pretty hard for being a Reserve guy - implying that I don't know what I'm talking about. I would ask respectfully what exactly I was incorrect about.

For the record, I have spent seven of those now 26 1/2 years of service on Active Duty. Dealt with around 150 cases of NJP or Court-Marshal as either a leader, a DA civilian, or an HR NCO. Been doing claims for the VA for 4 years now.
I think I know what I'm talking about.
(0)
Reply
(0)
Avatar_small

Join nearly 2 million former and current members of the US military, just like you.

close
Seg?add=7750261&t=2