September 13, 2016 No. 16-27 Mokie Porter 301-585-4000 # 146

All Veterans With PTSD Deserve Care

(Washington, D.C.)–“Today, with less than one percent of our nation’s citizens serving in our Armed Forces, it is a true travesty of justice that those who are suffering from service-related conditions–like PTSD, MST, and TBI–are being discharged without access to the VA benefits they have earned and desperately need,” Said John Rowan, National President, Vietnam Veterans of America.

An alarming 13 percent of post-2001 veterans have bad paper discharges. Among the Vietnam veteran population, tens of thousands with PTSD have been doubly injured by the black mark of another-than-honorable discharge, resulting in decades of denied VA services and benefits.

Historically, commanders have failed to recognize the signs of trauma among soldiers, and instead, have interpreted the symptoms of injury as willful misconduct. Current Army policy allows for a soldier’s alleged misconduct to take precedence over their medical conditions so that they can be administratively separated. Post-2001 veterans are excluded from VA services at nearly three times the rate of Vietnam veterans.

For most with less-than-honorable discharges, the stigma of their separation from service, combined with their physical and psychological symptoms, begins a downward spiral. Ousted from their former military community, and not eligible for health care and treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs, these veterans are more likely to be homeless; more likely to suffer from substance abuse; more likely to go without treatment for physical and mental injuries; and they are at high risk for incarceration. And they are more likely to die by suicide.

“Everyone says they want to do something to stop veteran suicides,” noted Rowan, “and during this “National Suicide Prevention Month” of September, nothing could be more fitting and useful than to ensure these most high risk veterans have access to treatment that will keep them alive. No treatment means more suicides than there have to be.”

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