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Screwing our Vets: "Personality Disorder" Ed.

chicago dyke's picture

This makes my blood boil:

Eventually the rocket shrapnel was removed from Town's neck and his ears stopped leaking blood. But his hearing never really recovered, and in many ways, neither has his life. A soldier honored twelve times during his seven years in uniform, Town has spent the last three struggling with deafness, memory failure and depression. By September 2006 he and the Army agreed he was no longer combat-ready.

But instead of sending Town to a medical board and discharging him because of his injuries, doctors at Fort Carson, Colorado, did something strange: They claimed Town's wounds were actually caused by a "personality disorder." Town was then booted from the Army and told that under a personality disorder discharge, he would never receive disability or medical benefits.

Town is not alone. A six-month investigation has uncovered multiple cases in which soldiers wounded in Iraq are suspiciously diagnosed as having a personality disorder, then prevented from collecting benefits. The conditions of their discharge have infuriated many in the military community, including the injured soldiers and their families, veterans' rights groups, even military officials required to process these dismissals.

They say the military is purposely misdiagnosing soldiers like Town and that it's doing so for one reason: to cheat them out of a lifetime of disability and medical benefits, thereby saving billions in expenses.

The Fine Print

In the Army's separations manual it's called Regulation 635-200, Chapter 5-13: "Separation Because of Personality Disorder." It's an alluring choice for a cash-strapped military because enacting it is quick and cheap. The Department of Veterans Affairs doesn't have to provide medical care to soldiers dismissed with personality disorder. That's because under Chapter 5-13, personality disorder is a pre-existing condition. The VA is only required to treat wounds sustained during service.

Soldiers discharged under 5-13 can't collect disability pay either. To receive those benefits, a soldier must be evaluated by a medical board, which must confirm that he is wounded and that his wounds stem from combat. The process takes several months, in contrast with a 5-13 discharge, which can be wrapped up in a few days.

If a soldier dismissed under 5-13 hasn't served out his contract, he has to give back a slice of his re-enlistment bonus as well. That amount is often larger than the soldier's final paycheck. As a result, on the day of their discharge, many injured vets learn that they owe the Army several thousand dollars.

One military official says doctors at his base are doing more than withholding this information from wounded soldiers; they're actually telling them the opposite: that if they go along with a 5-13, they'll get to keep their bonus and receive disability and medical benefits. The official, who demanded anonymity, handles discharge papers at a prominent Army facility. He says the soldiers he works with know they don't have a personality disorder. "But the doctors are telling them, this will get you out quicker, and the VA will take care of you. To stay out of Iraq, a soldier will take that in a heartbeat. What they don't realize is, those things are lies. The soldiers, they don't read the fine print," he says. "They don't know to ask for a med board. They're taking the word of the doctors. Then they sit down with me and find out what a 5-13 really means--they're shocked."

Go read the whole thing, and then call your Representative. The scandal goes so far beyond Walter Reed.

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Submitted by lambert on

... saying that if the Democrats don't pass the supplemental, the troops aren't going to get what they need, which is a lie, and is if the Republicans gave two shits about the troops, what with this, Walter Reed, the armor fiasco -- still going on -- and the fucking war itself.

No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

onealbear's picture
Submitted by onealbear on

If only they were this diligent about "saving billions in expenses"on Halliburton and Lockheed-Martin contracts....

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

I was discharged with a chapter 5-13 the 23rd of feb.2006 from Ft. Sill, OK. I am having my records lost over and over again and had a forgery of an interstate transfer done by the kansas army national guard. Can you e-mail me info for a good lawyer barred in the state of kansas. my phone number is 316-519-4154

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Please contact Steve Robinson at Veterans For America, 202-483-9222, I promise that he can help you, he has helped others with this problem.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

but i don't know anyone personally who is working on the issues that affect you. i'm so sorry.

the best i can do is offer you the opportunity to tell your story in full. write it up here, and i will post on it. again, i am so sorry that the government is not honoring your service.

it is reason #283420984320 why i hate bush.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

I am a therapist at a Vet Center. Our mandate is to assist Vets that have served in combat theatre, anywhere, anytime, for any reason. The majority of the service we provide is to help Vets adjust to civilian life after their military experience, no matter how long ago that was. Roughly 80% of what we do is treat PTSD and other related mental disorders the military was rither unable or unwilling to treat. I have seen many Iraq/Afganistan/Desert Storm Vets with separation papers that state "personality disorder" as the reason for the discharge. The big problem is, teh "so called" personality disorder is usualy something else: (IE: depression, dysthymia, and Post Truamatic Stress Disorder.) Recently, a Vet came to my office after a year of suffering after the Army kicked him out. He was given a diagnosis of Dysthymia, told he could not deploy to Iraq, but the dumb asses sent him anyway. Five months after arriving in Iraq, he had been shot ot over 50 times, witnessed hundreds of civilian deaths and 22 KIA's from his unit. The Army realized it screwed up by sending him to war, so the sent him home for 2 weeks ten discharged him...without a med board. The bright side of this is that I have him now...and he'll apply for, and most likely receive a hefty disability compensation for the rest of his life, and receive the best mental health care for his PTSD, which could have been avoided if the Army paid attention to their own rules.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

I was in iraq and was told that i was being sent back to my duty station to have my carpal tunnel syndrome fixed that i have in both of my wrists. When I returned I got a command referral for mental health and the doctor said that i have a personality disorder and she is going to suggest that i be administratively discharged from the army. I am really ticked off. I won't get to go to a med board for it, because it isn't that serious yet, but serious enough to put me out. I am still waiting to have my hands looked at and might get to go to a med board for them. I am unable to write at all and typing is painful but I try not to do it alot at one sitting. Something really bad happened to me down range and my friends think that i have ptsd, but with the personality disorder they don't have to pay you. I can understand why so many people are upset it is amazing what our government can and will do to us.