Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is calling on the nation’s military leaders to document how they’re working to solve the problem of combat soldiers being unfairly discharged due to undiagnosed cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Grassley says some soldiers may’ve been kicked out, then forced to repay bonuses they got for re-enlisting, even though it was the wartime experiences that were the root cause of their mental health issues. Grassley says a recent study found flaws in the U.S. military’s procedures when troops return home from battle zones.
“The Pentagon failed to meet key personality disorder separation requirements,” Grassley says. “This means some members of the military may’ve been discharged for pre-existing personality disorders when it’s possible the disorders could have been due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Grassley says his letter asks President Obama to “renew his commitment to veterans” who may have been discharged unfairly. “With the tremendous increase in diagnoses of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, it’s pretty clear that an in-depth medical analysis is needed to ensure our returning service members get the help they need,” Grassley says.
Three other U.S. senators signed the letter. The Pentagon has done some updating of its discharge procedures since the critical report was released, but Grassley says they want more than just “verbal assurances” from military leaders that positive changes have taken place.
“Our letter asks for an update on the number of military members who were deployed in combat zones and then discharged with personality disorders as well as the number who have appealed the discharge decision,” Grassley says.
Congress passed a bill three years ago, charging the Veterans Administration with setting up a program to screen and monitor for suicide risks in returning soldiers. The Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act was named for a 22-year old Army Reservist who killed himself at his parent’s home in Grundy Center, Iowa, a few days before Christmas in 2005. Omvig had just returned from 11 months of combat duty in Iraq. Congressman Leonard Boswell, a Democrat from Des Moines who is a Vietnam era veteran, was a key sponsor of the Omvig Act.