Veteranclaims’s Blog

October 22, 2010

Sentator Bond States Troops Not Being Treated for Stress Disorder, Just Discharged

Full Article at: Troops with combat stress discharged, not treated, senator charges
By DAVID GOLDSTEIN
McClatchy Newspapers

“The military has been discharging troops who are suffering from combat stress, instead of providing treatment, according to Missouri Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond and several veterans advocates.

That would mean that many who could be afflicted with mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, have left the service without official medical diagnoses and no chance for medical benefits.

“If somebody comes back with battle-related stress and invisible injuries, we owe them a tremendous amount,” said Bond, a Republican. “We need to determine what their problem is, not kick them out and let them fend for themselves.”

The disputed discharges are for “adjustment disorders,” which can occur when a person has trouble handling a stressful event. In the military, service members who’ve seen combat or undergone other types of stress might be discharged as a result of sleepwalking, airsickness or severe nightmares.

The procedure bypasses the lengthier medical discharge process, but critics say that many troops are discharged erroneously and lose out on medical benefits.

“A service member who has a mental health condition is tempted with the carrot of going home to see family, and most service members will leap at the chance,” said Paul Sullivan, the executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, an advocacy group. “Without a medical exam and legal advice, they quickly sign the discharge papers so they can go home. Most often they’re not told they are sacrificing benefits.”

After several attempts to get discharges data from the Pentagon, Bond and three Senate colleagues called on Defense Secretary Robert Gates in a letter last week to pry the information loose.”

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