FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
*** STATEMENT ***
PROTECT OUR DEFENDERS CALLS ON CONGRESS TO INVESTIGATE MILITARY’S FAILURE TO TRACK MENTAL HEALTH DISCHARGES, PROVIDE ADEQUATE SUPPORT FOR VETERANS AND SERVICEMEMBERS
Washington, D.C. – The Military Times broke a story late last week on the failure of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps to properly track mental health discharges of servicemembers. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Health Care Director, Randall Williamson, the Department of Defense (DoD) does not know whether the military has properly discharged servicemembers with serious combat-related conditions like PTSD or traumatic brain injury. The military also does not know how many servicemembers have been separated for diagnoses that do not merit disability pay, such as personality disorder diagnoses, even among veterans who may have qualified for medical retirement.
According to Williamson, “Absent an effective process for monitoring and reporting compliance, DoD and the military services cannot assure that the military services are complying with DoD requirements.”
Today, Protect Our Defenders President, Don Christensen, Colonel (ret.) USAF released the following statement:
“There is a long sad history of our brave men and women in uniform being separated from the military under false diagnoses. For years, government reports have found high rates of incorrectly diagnosed personality disorders, particularly among those who instead suffer from PTSD as a direct result of their service. This report raises many questions about who gets labeled with a diagnosis meriting disability pay and who does not, creating a vicious cycle. Service members who are wrongfully diagnosed after experiencing a sexual assault or witnessing combat have an even harder time obtaining VA disability benefits.
“If we are not collecting accurate health information about our servicemembers, how can we give our veterans the help and resources they desperately need? We are wasting millions of dollars and risking our military readiness when we lose qualified soldiers who are misdiagnosed. Protect Our Defenders is calling on Congress to launch an independent investigation on how the military tracks these discharges.
“Our veterans and active-duty service members put their lives on the line for our country every day. The least we can do is make sure they are cared for when they come home.”
Military Times: GAO: Shortfalls in tracking mental health discharges
Fusion: Another way the Army can deny justice to victims of sexual assault
About Protect Our Defenders: Protect Our Defenders is a human rights organization. We seek to honor, support and give voice to the brave women and men in uniform who have been sexually assaulted while serving their country, and re-victimized by the military adjudication system – a system that often blames the victim and fails to prosecute the perpetrator. Learn more about Protect Our Defenders at www.protectourdefenders.com or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ProtectOurDefenders or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ProtectRDfnders.