This abuse is nothing new. We have tens of thousands of disposable Veterans out there who know their service, their very lives, mean nothing to a country asleep. aw.
U.S. military illegally discharging veterans with personality disorder, report says
By Mary E. O'Leary The New Haven (Conn.) Register
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Department of Defense has illegally discharged hundreds of veterans in the past decade by not following their own protocols when making a diagnosis of personality disorder, which denies them certain medical benefits and carries a stigma that hurts re-entry to civilian life.
That conclusion is based on data collected from the Department of Defense as the result of two Freedom of Information suits filed by the Veterans Services Clinic at Yale Law School on behalf of its clients, Vietnam Veterans of America.
The VVA and the Yale clinic Thursday released their report: "Casting Troops Aside: The United States Military's Illegal Personality Disorder Discharge Problem."
Personality disorder is considered a pre-existing condition, as opposed to post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury and usually manifests itself in adolescence.
The law clinic has determined that a total of 31,000 service members from 2001 to 2010 were discharged on the basis of alleged personality disorder, which is nearly 20 percent more than the 26,000 personality disorder discharges estimated by the federal General Accounting Office for 2001 to 2007.
Eileen Lainez, a spokeswoman for the Department of Defense, said she could not comment on the report because she had not reviewed it, but said the department periodically assesses its policies on discharges.
"We encourage all separating service members who believe their discharges were incorrectly characterized or processed to request adjudication through their respective military department's Discharge Review Board and Board for Correction of Military Records," Lainez wrote in an e-mail.
Dr. Thomas Berger, VVA executive director for the Veterans Health Council, said to properly diagnose someone with personality disorder, the Department of Defense would have had to consult with the families and he doubted that happened.
A report by the U.S. Navy on this type of discharge for fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2009, found only 8.9 percent of the cases were properly processed. "This does not paint a pretty picture," it concluded.
Between five and eight specific requirements need to be met in order to be compliant with making a proper diagnosis, but no service branch was 100 percent compliant in 2008 or 2009, while it improved in 2010.
"It's shocking," said law student Zachary Strassburger, who worked on the analysis. Strassburger said Defense has had this information for years, but has not acted upon it, "Something is wrong here,"
The Navy has discharged the most service members for personality disorders in absolute terms, 7,735, and in fiscal 2006 the Air Force set a military record for the Afghanistan and Iraq era when personality discharges accounted for 3.7 percent of all Air Force personnel being discharged, which was 1,114 out of 29,498 service members, according to the data.
It also showed that while there was a decline in PD discharges after Congress was critical, there has been a jump in "adjustment disorder" discharges. From 2008-10, the Army discharged 6,492 service members for AD; in fiscal 2009-2010, the Coast Guard made 166 AD discharges and in 2007-10, the Air Force made 1,821 AD discharges.
Adjustment Disorder is a condition caused by an abnormal response to stress and Straussburger said there is concern the department is substituting this diagnosis for personality disorder in discharging service members. Straussburger said the high Navy numbers are disturbing as it has a strong presence in Connecticut.
"Shame on the Department of Defense," said Berger. "It (the Defense Department) acknowledged the widespread illegality of these discharges and changed its rules going forward but has left 31,000 wounded warriors alone to fend for themselves, denied even basic medical care for their injuries."