• Mental Health Care for All Veterans

    May 20, 2017

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Hooper's War

    How far into the future should punishment go? Should we punish some veterans to death?

    Until the rules change this summer, that is indeed how the Department of Defense has been handling access to emergency mental health care for those with less than honorable discharges. In particular lack of mental health care for vets suffering from PTSD or moral injury has proven deadly; despite whatever the vets did to be discharged with less than honorable status (and the offenses can range from security infractions to crimes of violence), their suffering from the stresses of service is as real as for any other service member. They deserve the (psychological) treatment they may finally get later this year, not the punishment treatment they have been receiving.

    The thinking behind this denial of care was straightforward: benefits, such as access to medical care, should be a reward for those who completed their service honorably. But what seemed straightforward enough ended up leaving vulnerable people, who came home wounded, without help.

    So it was significant that the Department of Veterans Affairs took an important, belated step to protect tens of thousands of former service members. Starting this summer, with Congressional support, the VA will provide emergency mental health care to vets who received less than honorable discharges.

    “Our goal is simple: to save lives,” said David Shulkin, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. “Veterans who are in crisis should receive help immediately.” And help is certainly needed, for among the entire population of veterans, regardless of discharge status, some 20 per day on average commit suicide.

    The number of people who will be eligible for help is significant; there are roughly 500,000 veterans with less than honorable discharges, including more than 100,000 who left service during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of those, since 2009 when the statistic started to be recorded, the military has discharged at least 22,000 combat veterans for alleged misconduct who had mental health problems or related traumatic brain injuries.

    These changes, while important, only address a subset of veterans. The military has a tiered system of discharges (honorable discharge, general discharge under honorable conditions, other than honorable discharge, bad conduct discharge [issued by special court martial or general court martial] dishonorable discharge, and entry-level separation.) Even under the new rules, some vets who leave the military with service-related psychological issues but under dishonorable discharges will still remain ineligible for care.

    Veterans in crisis should call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 (press 1), or text 838255.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • Mitch said...


      Very slippery slope.. Indeed.

      I’ll leave it at that…. An actual full response would look like “War and Peace”


      05/20/17 1:04 AM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...


      REFUSE T0 $erve (per Uniform Code) in US’ ILLEGAL WAR$ !

      05/20/17 10:45 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      They should have sought psychological counseling prior to becoming goons for empire. Their family failed them in not informing them that America is not the good guy. I”ll help pick up the care tab now but there has to be a cut off. Anyone who joins the military today is insane and undeserving of post service care.

      05/20/17 1:37 PM | Comment Link

    • jim hruska said...


      John Poole,
      r u really that stupid?

      in addition to the categories of discharges there is a system of categories for treatment at the va.
      example, if a person spent 15 years in active duty and has no disability(sc)they may not get med bennies IF THEY don’t meet the means testing.
      we have categories that were the brain child of clinton and carried out by 43. see both parties love us when policing for votes, but cut every corner to deny us bennies.
      wounded vets and sc disabled are top priority along with pow and moh recipients.
      now remember that all wounded guys are not necessarily disabled.nor are all disabled wounded.
      it’s a real mix in a va waiting room.
      in my writings at rangeragainstwar i often opine that the only way to fix the va is to require our elected and appointed brahmins to be required to use the va.
      why do no service, no combat ass holes get cadillac health care and we get foreign born and trained idiots who went to med school in places we can’t even pronounce.?!
      fwiw- i usually don’t reply although i read you every day.
      the comment by Poole is why.
      jim hruska

      05/20/17 4:18 PM | Comment Link

    • jim hruska said...


      i know that you’ll allow me to give some advice.
      any former service member can trust the MOPH/DAV/AMLEG service officers to fight for them.
      every county in the country has VA coordinators to provide services th vets.
      these people are usually fairly on top of things, but i trust the DAV the most.
      i am service connected 100% and wounded as well as eligible for combat related special compensation, AND i had to fight for years to get my ratings.
      i say this as my bona fides.
      i give advice as needed, and will help any vet who is lost or confused.
      i am more than lucky because i’m verbal , and combative, but a lot of vets are incapable of defending themselves and this is a sadness and a sorrow.
      many have thrown in their chips and this is a national disgrace.
      jim hruska

      05/20/17 4:26 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Hey Hruska: Any thoughts about the innocent civilian and loyal military Afghans, Iraqis, Vietnamese, Libyans, etc who were murdered by GI goons during illegal invasions? Who do they go to for PTSD help? Or they just out of luck?

      05/20/17 9:53 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      Good for Secretary Shulkin.

      Peter, your article highlights a key problem – we tend to look at programs on a reward basis, not a service. For health purposes, health programs should be available to all veterans regardless of discharge status. Erratic behavior is a health problem or crisis, not an occasion to pass judgement on a person.

      It’s ironic we have so many resources and programs, but don’t do too well connecting people to programs for them to get help and chalk up bad behavior to a personal choice when it can be something more serious. Maybe it’s a cultural problem across our society – everyone wants to work with ‘success stories’ but desert when someone with a challenging situation presents.

      It’s also hard for spouses and can understand why divorce often results. There’s not enough mental health and other support for spouses.

      05/21/17 12:33 AM | Comment Link

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