Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Report: Service members diagnosed with PTSD bounced for infractions

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 9:43 AM

click to enlarge Fort Carson was among the posts identified in a series of stories that delved into the discharge of soldiers diagnosed with PTSD and TBI. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Fort Carson was among the posts identified in a series of stories that delved into the discharge of soldiers diagnosed with PTSD and TBI.
A recently released Government Accountability Office report found that many service members who were discharged for misconduct had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury before their separations.

Here's a partial summary of GAO's findings:'
GAO’s analysis of Department of Defense (DOD) data show that 62 percent, or 57,141 of the 91,764 service members separated for misconduct from fiscal years 2011 through 2015 had been diagnosed within the 2 years prior to separation with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), or certain other conditions that could be associated with misconduct. Specifically, 16 percent had been diagnosed with PTSD or TBI, while the other conditions, such as adjustment and alcohol-related disorders, were more common. Of the 57,141 service members, 23 percent, or 13,283, received an “other than honorable” characterization of service, making them potentially ineligible for health benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The study is important, because it bolsters findings of Dave Philipps, former reporter at the Gazette, that soldiers were being issued "other than honorable" discharges for infractions that might be related to PTSD and TBI. The series of stories published in spring 2013 won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2014, and paved the way for Philipps' exit of the Gazette to accept a job with The New York Times.

Philipps' work is even cited in the GAO report.

Read the full GAO report here.

Philipps' series looked at discharges across the country in addition to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.

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