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Most U.S. Troops Kicked Out for Misconduct Had Mental Illness: Study

Sixty-two percent of servicemembers discharged for misconduct during the fiscal years 2011 through 2015 had been diagnosed within the previous two years with conditions including PTSD, traumatic brain injury or another condition.


(Reuters) — A majority of U.S. troops discharged from the military for misconduct during a four-year period ending in 2015 had been diagnosed with mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury, a new study found.

The report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office will likely add to scrutiny over whether the U.S. military is doing enough to care for troops identified with mental health issues during their service, instead of simply casting them out.

The GAO analysis showed that 62 percent of the 91,764 servicemembers discharged for misconduct during the fiscal years 2011 through 2015 had been diagnosed within the previous two years with conditions including PTSD, TBI “or certain other conditions that could be associated with misconduct.”

Twenty-three percent of the servicemembers received an “other than honorable” discharge, which made them potentially ineligible for health benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans’ advocates have long complained about a lack of support for former U.S. servicemembers who do not have honorable discharge papers, something new Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has announced plans to address.

The watchdog said the Navy does not require medical examination or screening of some sailors who are being kicked out of the service for misconduct. It said the Army and Marine Corps “may not have adhered to their own screening, training and counseling policies related to PTSD and TBI.”

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  • Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey

    When many so-called “conservatives” politicians talk about “supporting the troops”, they really mean “supporting the war” and “supporting the brass”; but in recent decades, it’s become quite clear that they regard the average American service member as disposable tools, to be ignored and tossed aside or maintained on the cheap until replacements can be put in place. The service is generally one place where poor whites and Blacks and Native Americans and Hmong and Hispanics and Samoans and every other kind of discarded American is treated equally: not WELL, but equally shabbily, with even a tiny chance of advancement. But if you are no longer useful to the war machine, the “pro-troop” budget slashers will cut back your medical care, just like they did your salaries while you were serving. But they don’t care; almost none of them have children or grandchildren in service, and even fewer have non-officers in their family.

  • I’m really glad the Army opened up an investigation of this situation so those effected can now get the VA benefits they badly need and that their other than honorable discharges will be changed to honorable. Good on them for recognizing their mistake. Discipline obviously must be maintained with the armed forces but they at least are going back to capture those effected and allow them to get help. Hopefully now that they recognize their errors, the soldiers will get the help they need before they are discharged in the first place.

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