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Sen. Wyden Calls For Investigation Into Mental Health Discharges

Thursday, November 05, 2015

 

Sen. Ron Wyden

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D) joined 11 other Democratic Senators from across the country to call on the Pentagon to a full U.S. Army Inspector General investigation into recent allegations that the U.S. Army has, since 2009, wrongfully dismissed more than 22,000 soldiers after they returned from deployment and were diagnosed with mental health disorders.

In a letter addressed to Eric Fanning, the Acting Under Secretary of the U.S. Army, and General Mark A. Milley, Chief of Staff of the U.s. Army, the Senators said they were concerned that dismissed soldiers would not receive critical retirement, health care and employment benefits that soldiers with an honorable discharge would receive.

“We are troubled by recent allegations that the U.S. Army is forcefully separating for misconduct servicemembers diagnosed with PTSD or TBI. We are concerned that it may be easier to discharge servicemembers for minor misconduct—possibly related to mental health issues—than to evaluate them for conditions that may warrant a medical discharge. As a result, many of the dismissed soldiers have not received crucial retirement benefits, health care benefits, and post-service employment eligibility that soldiers receive with an honorable discharge,” the senators wrote. “We encourage you to conduct a full U.S. Army Inspector General investigation into these allegations. Thank you for your service to our country and we look forward to working with you to rectify this grave offense to the men and women that serve in our armed forces.”

Of special concern to the Senators was the forceful separation of soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorders and traumatic brain injuries. They said that separation denies these men and women badly-needed treatments and could discourage other service members from seeking medical treatment

Read the full text of the letter below:

Dear Honorable Fanning and General Milley:
 
We are troubled by recent allegations that the U.S. Army is forcefully separating for misconduct
servicemembers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) or traumatic brain injuries (TBI). We encourage you to conduct a full U.S. Army Inspector General investigation into these recent allegations that the U.S. Army is violating the intent of Section 512 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010.
 
Recent media reports indicate that since January 2009, the U.S. Army has separated over 22,000 soldiers for misconduct after they returned from deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan and were diagnosed with mental health problems or TBI. As a result, many of the dismissed soldiers have not received crucial retirement benefits, health care benefits, and post-service employment eligibility that soldiers receive with an honorable discharge. Soldiers who deploy are at an increased risk for mental health issues and the forceful separation of servicemembers post-deployment only further denies treatment and support at a critical moment in any soldier’s life.  Additionally, fear of dismissal may discourage servicemembers from seeking the medical treatment they require.
 
Section 574 of the FY14 NDAA called for a GAO report to look into these kinds of dismissal cases. That report was delivered to Congress in February of this year recommending that the services develop a method to identify the number of servicemembers separated for non-disability mental conditions and take actions to ensure that servicemembers are appropriately separated for non-disability mental conditions in accordance with DoD’s separation requirements.  Serious gaps in DoD policies have been identified and any investigation going forward should take this into consideration.
 
We are concerned that it may be easier to discharge servicemembers for minor misconduct—possibly related to mental health issues—than to evaluate them for conditions that may warrant a medical discharge. We know that the health and safety of our servicemembers and their families
is your top priority and we are confident that you will investigate these recent allegations.  Thank you again for your service to our country and we look forward to working with you to rectify this grave offense to the men and women that serve in our armed forces.
 
Sincerely,
 
Christopher S. Murphy
 
Barbara Boxer
 
Ron Wyden
 
Jon Tester
 
Tammy Baldwin
 
Ed Markey
 
Richard Blumenthal
 
Gary Peters
 
Sherrod Brown
 
Michael Bennet
 
Amy Klobuchar
 
Tim Kaine

 

 

Related Slideshow: Slideshow: Oregon Senate Race Candidates

Democrats and Republicans are pouring millions of dollars into five Oregon state Senate seats in an effort to gain control of the upper chamber. 

The Democrats have held power in the Senate, House and the Governor’s Office since 2012. But this year all eyes are on the Senate and the Republicans’ have a real shot at shaking the status quo.

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Sarah Gelser

Sarah Gesler

Democrat 

District 8, Albany 

Total contributions: $348,300.52

Photo credit: Sarah Gelser website

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Betsy Close

Betsy Close

Republican 

District 8, Albany 

Total contributions: $192,168.24

Photo credit: Betsy Close website

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Dave Dotterrer

Dave Dotterrer

Republican 

District 3, Medford 

Total contributions: $347,955.43

Photo credit: Dave Dotterrer website

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Alan Bates

Alan Bates:

Democrat

District 3, Medford 

Committee to elect Alan Bates:
    Total contributions: $228,982.66

Friends of Alan Bates:
    Total contributions: $47,554.17
 

Photo credit:  Alan Bates website

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Patti Milne

Patti Milne

Republican 

District 11, Salem 

Total contributions: $168,796.50

Photo credit: Patti Milne website

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Peter Courtney

Peter Courtney

Democrat

District 11, Salem 

Total contributions: $277,225.85

Photo credit: Peter Courtney website

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Jamie Damon

Jamie Damon 

Democrat 

District 20, Clackamas County

Total contributions: $260,437.05

Photo credit: Jamie Damon website

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Alan Olsen

Alan Olsen 

Republican

District 20, Clackamas County 

Total contributions: $209,190.91

Photo credit: Alan Olsen website

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Bruce Starr

Bruce Starr 

Republican

District 15, Hillsboro 

Total contributions: $273,909.48

Photo credit: Bruce Starr website

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Chuck Riley

Chuck Riley 

Democrat

District 15, Hillsboro 

Total contributions: $147,403.80

Photo credit: Chuck Riley website

 
 

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