No One Talks About These Veterans…but We Should

by Rachel Baker on September 15, 2014

Here at the Crafty Veteran, we post a lot of craft and DIY projects, but sometimes there is an article of interest to the veteran community that I believe is incredibly important. This is a truly important article for Veterans who haven’t been about to get VA Benefits.

Between 2000 and 2013 more than 600,000 discharged members of the military received less than honorable discharges. What this means is there are more than 600k veterans in the United States that do not receive all or even some VA benefits. The only way you can take advantage of all VA benefits is through an honorable discharge.

Now, between 2000 and 2013, there were almost as many people who left the military within 180 days and received an Uncharacterized discharge (288,568) as there were who received General or Other-than-honorable conditions discharges (297,329). One has to ask, how did this happen? What happened within the first six months that allowed these people to get out and also collect health and pension benefits from the VA.

A General or Uncharacterized discharge only allows you VA health and pension. There are 460,693 veterans who only get VA (health and pension) – they forfeit their GI Bill (which those with a General discharge paid into the first year of their service). Then there is Other-than-honorable conditions, Bad Conduct and dishonorable discharges – all of which affords you nothing – there are 145,725 veterans who fall into this category.

What’s important about this is, this time period is predominantly the wartime period right after 9/11. All except Uncharacterized discharges have paid into the GI Bill and are not able to utilize it; and those that leave the military within 180 days get healthcare and pension, but those who may have been suffering from PTSD and was misdiagnosed get nothing. An other-than-honorable conditions discharge is for minor offenses, such as drug and alcohol – newsflash: seems like someone – some docs IN the military – should have figured out that increase alcohol and drug use are symptoms of PTSD, before discharging people and giving them no access to the healthcare they probably need due to their time in the military.

But there is good news,

The Pentagon announced earlier this month that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is ordering the discharge review boards to give “liberal consideration” to upgrade requests, including from service members who were diagnosed with PTSD by a civilian doctor or those that can prove they suffered from at least one PTSD-related symptom. These symptoms can include nightmares, flashbacks, changes in personality, sleeping disorders, and suicidal thoughts.

This new policy is supposed to be implemented sometime towards the end of October. And it could lead to an increased number of veterans who qualify for care in the system. It could also help in Veterans finding civilian employment – because, for those of you that don’t know, if you’ve been in the military and you go for a job interview, your type of discharge absolutely matters.

However, an important step towards implementation of this policy will be to get news of it out to the segment of the population this would apply to. So, if you are looking for information on how to get your discharged re-evaluated so you can take advantage of VA health benefits, stay tuned – October 2014 may just be the month that you can get the help you need.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to Become a Patron or to follow on Twitter.

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