The official Sebastian Junger community
This is was an article written by Anne Flaherty that hit the AP wires this morning....I've been hearing this through the rumor mill for awhile, and it has been among the veterans top, loudest and frequent of complaints.. .
Either having PTSD be this one size fits all diagnosis for the inevitable mental and emotional challenges of re-transitioning back into American life after service...or having a "personality disorder" that turns out to be pre-existing -- something the army then says it didn't catch when it originally screened soldiers to evaluate their readiness to go to war -- that limits the scope of benefits a soldier is entitled to when he or she returns.
don't like to sound cycnical, but on the face of it, it appears as though the Army is now using the tricks of the trade used by insurance companies for many years - when they abruptly drop a suddenly very sick person of medical coverage -- with the argument that it was a pre-existing conidtion.
That was just declared illegal for insurance companies to do, thanks to the Obama administration and anyone who worked on health care reform. but is this what the Army is doing?
The wire story is attached below, with links.
BC-US--Soldiers-Wrongly-Discharged, 2nd Ld-Writethru,1178
Advocates see trouble for misdiagnosed soldiers
Eds: Refreshes headlines.
AP Photo WXSC201, WXSC202, WXSC203, WXSC204, WXSC205
By ANNE FLAHERTY
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - At the height of the Iraq war, the Army
routinely dismissed hundreds of soldiers for having a personality
disorder when they were more likely suffering from the traumatic
stresses of war, discharge data suggests.
Under pressure from Congress and the public, the Army later
acknowledged the problem and drastically cut the number of soldiers
given the designation. But advocates for veterans say an unknown
number of troops still unfairly bear the stigma of a personality
disorder, making them ineligible for military health care and other
"We really have an obligation to go back and make sure troops
weren't misdiagnosed," said Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, a clinical
psychologist whose nonprofit "Give an Hour" connects troops with
volunteer mental health professionals.
The Army denies that any soldier was misdiagnosed before 2008,
when it drastically cut the number of discharges due to personality
disorders and diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorders
Unlike PTSD, which the Army regards as a treatable mental
disability caused by the acute stresses of war, the military
designation of a personality disorder can have devastating
consequences for soldiers.
Defined as a "deeply ingrained maladaptive pattern of
behavior," a personality disorder is considered a "pre-existing
condition" that relieves the military of its duty to pay for the
person's health care or combat-related disability pay.
According to figures provided by the Army, the service
discharged about a 1,000 soldiers a year between 2005 and 2007 for
having a personality disorder.
But after an article in The Nation magazine exposed the
practice, the Defense Department changed its policy and began
requiring a top-level review of each case to ensure post-traumatic
stress or a brain injury wasn't the underlying cause.
After that, the annual number of personality disorder cases
dropped by 75 percent. Only 260 soldiers were discharged on those
grounds in 2009.
At the same time, the number of post-traumatic stress disorder
cases has soared. By 2008, more than 14,000 soldiers had been
diagnosed with PTSD - twice as many as two years before.
The Army attributes the sudden and sharp reduction in
personality disorders to its policy change. Yet Army officials deny
that soldiers were discharged unfairly, saying they reviewed the
paperwork of all deployed soldiers dismissed with a personality
disorder between 2001 and 2006.
"We did not find evidence that soldiers with PTSD had been
inappropriately discharged with personality disorder," wrote Maria
Tolleson, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Army Medical Command, which
oversees the health care of soldiers, in an e-mail.
Command officials declined to be interviewed.
Advocates for veterans are skeptical of the Army's claim that it
didn't make any mistakes. They say symptoms of PTSD - anger,
irritability, anxiety and depression - can easily be confused for
the Army's description of a personality disorder.
They also point out that during its review of past cases, the
Army never interviewed soldiers or their families, who can often
provide evidence of a shift in behavior that occurred after someone
was sent into a war zone.
"There's no reason to believe personality discharges would go
down so quickly" unless the Army had misdiagnosed hundreds of
soldiers each year in the first place, said Bart Stichman,
co-director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program.
Stichman's organization is working through a backlog of 130
individual cases of wounded service members who feel they were
wrongly denied benefits.
Among those cases is Chuck Luther, who decided to rejoin the
Army after the Sept. 11 attacks. He had previously served eight
years before being honorably discharged.
"I knew what combat was going to take," he said.
Luther, who lives near Fort Hood, Texas, said throughout his
time in the Army, he received eight mental health evaluations from
the Army, each clearing him as "fit for duty."
Luther was seven months into his deployment as a reconnaissance
scout in Iraq's violent Sunni Triangle in 2007 when he says a
mortar shell slammed him to the ground. He later complained of
stabbing eye pain and crippling migraines, but was told by a
military doctor that he was faking his symptoms to avoid combat
Luther says that he was confined for a month in a 6-by-8 foot
room without treatment. At one point, Luther acknowledges, he
snapped - biting a guard and spitting in the face of a military
After that episode, Luther says, the Army told him he could
return home and keep his benefits if he signed papers admitting he
had a personality disorder. If he didn't sign, he said, he was told
he would be kicked out eventually anyway.
Luther, whose account was first detailed by The Nation, signed
His case highlights the irony in many personality discharges. A
person is screened mentally and physically before joining the
military. But upon returning from combat, that same person is told
he or she had a serious mental disorder that predated military
As in the civilian world, where many insurance companies deny
coverage for illnesses that develop before a policy is issued, the
government can deny a service member veteran health care benefits
and combat-related disability pay for pre-existing ailments.
Despite the Defense Department's reforms, groups such as the
National Veterans Legal Services Program say they don't have enough
manpower to help all the veterans who believe they were wrongly
Stichman says his organization has more than 60 law firms across
the country willing to take on the legal cases of wounded veterans
for free. But even with that help, the group doesn't know when it
would be able to take on even one new case.
A congressional inquiry is under way to determine whether the
Army is relying on a different designation - referred to as an
"adjustment disorder" - to dismiss soldiers.
Sen. Kit Bond, a Missouri Republican, wants the Pentagon to
explain why the number of these discharges doubled between 2006 and
2009 and how many of those qualified to retain their benefits.
As for Luther, he got lucky. After about a year, he says the
Veterans Administration agreed to reevaluate him and decided that
he suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome coupled by traumatic
brain injury. The ruling gives him access to a psychologist and
psychiatrist every two weeks, despite his discharge status, he
But Luther acknowledges that he still struggles. In June, he
received word that the Army had turned down his appeal to correct
his record, which means he could never return to the service or
retire with full benefits.
A week later, he says, he lost his job delivering potato chips
because a superior felt threatened by him. Luther says he misses
"When I was in uniform, that defined me," he said. "It's what
made me, me."
U.S. Army Medical Command: http://www.armymedicine.army.mil
Department of Veterans Affairs: http://www.va.gov/
"Give an Hour": http://www.giveanhour.org
National Veterans Legal Services Program: http://www.nvlsp.org/
Hello Abigail..Hope you are well...Here is a message regarding PTSD from Joe Biden VP
....enjoy the weekend....hugs Clare..so long Abigail...
This Tuesday, after more than seven years of war, President Obama will end the United States' combat mission in Iraq.
While the war in Iraq has at times been a divisive issue for Americans, one common belief has always remained: Our nation has a sacred obligation to our troops and the families who serve with them.
In his Weekly Address, the President discusses the end of the combat mission in Iraq and what his Administration is doing to support our veterans once they get home:
Since we took office, more than 90,000 troops have returned from Iraq, leaving a force of up to 50,000 U.S. troops who will support Iraqi Security Forces. By the end of next year, all American troops will be out of Iraq.
These men and women have put their lives on the line. They have spent months or years away from their families and homes. Many have suffered devastating injuries. And some who left for Iraq will never return home.
Including veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are nearly one million more veterans in our country than there were a decade ago. I can tell you that President Obama is 100% committed to supporting our troops and their families not only when they are fighting abroad, but also when they come back home.
That’s why the President has made one of the largest investments in veterans’ care and support in our nation’s history. Here are just a few things this Administration is doing to support our vets:
•Improving veterans’ health care by modernizing and expanding hospitals, cleaning up and simplifying the claims process, and directing significant resources into treating Traumatic Brain Injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).•Giving nearly 300,000 veterans and their family members access to higher education through the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
•Devoting more resources to job placement and training, directing the federal government to hire more veterans and encouraging the private sector to follow suit.
As our brave men and women return from Iraq, it’s important that all of our veterans know that we are a truly grateful nation. To all of our troops – Thank you for your service; you are true American heroes. To all of our military families – Thank you for your courage and sacrifice.
Vice President Joe Biden
P.S. Right now, Americans across the country are sending their messages of thanks and support to our troops as part of our Saluting Service in Iraq effort on WhiteHouse.gov. Take a minute to check out President Obama’s message to our troops and leave your own message:
The White House • 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW • Washington, DC 20500 • 202-456-1111