For many servicemen and women, the horrors of war, while troubling, do not hinder their ability to function in the military or at home. But for a significant number of people, the experience of combat is something that they will never be able to completely shake.
While there are a number of effective forms of treatment and therapies available for treating PTSD, many veterans have trouble accessing help because of what is known “bad paper.” To put it plainly, a dishonorable discharge from the armed forces. Those with less than favorable discharges cannot access benefits to treat the very conditions that their service in the military helped to create. In fact, around 13 percent of post-9/11 veterans have been given dishonorable discharges from the military, The New York Times reports. Many of the same veterans' only offense was having had suffered from symptoms of either PTSD or traumatic brain injury (TBI).
It turns out that the misconduct that people are being handed bad paper for, is in many cases linked to symptoms of PTSD, and thousands of soldiers have been dishonorably discharged without the due process of a court martial, according to the article. Veterans are being cast away, left with few options after service, due to the status of their discharge often being denied access to veterans' benefits. Such veterans are at an increased risk of:
- Substance Abuse
With less than 24 hours before the end of President Gerald Ford’s tenure, he pardoned en masse Vietnam Veterans who violated the Military Selective Service Act or the Uniform Code of Military Justice. President Carter in a similar action, fully pardoned Americans who refused induction into the military by way of the Vietnam-era draft, which was a felony offense. It could be argued that victims of PTSD, TBI or any form of mental illness related to combat, deserve more than anyone the consideration of the executive branch of government. We will continue to follow this important story.
At Cottonwood Tucson we would like to wish you all a happy New Year. For those of you working a program of recovery, this is a good time to acknowledge the progress you have made and show gratitude towards those who have helped you get where you are today. Please have a safe and sober New Year's Eve.