Veterans Attorney Says DoD Should Consider Mental Anguish In Soldier Misconduct Cases
Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) November 29, 2010 - Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a widely known psychological disorder thanks largely in part to the aftermath of the Vietnam War, where thousands of soldiers returned to the United States unable to cope with everyday life. Despite increased understanding, however, there have been recent cases where the military has not been sensitive to solders’ mental trauma.
After fighting in the bloody Battle of Fallujah in Iraq and serving a second tour of duty in Afghanistan, James Karp, a U.S. Marine, found that he was drinking often in an attempt to forget about the mental anguish he suffered overseas.
“It was like, you come back from war, you get drunk. You're having issues? Have a beer,” Karp told the Austin American Statesman newspaper in Austin, Texas.
Karp went to a clinic where he was diagnosed with PTSD. However, when he was drunk at a party in November of 2006, he decided to use cocaine. After a random test uncovered his cocaine use shortly after the party, Karp was court-martialed and kicked out of the Marines with an “other than honorable” discharge, thus losing his benefits.
“The story is not that unusual – a service member suffering from psychological problems starts to self medicate, gets kicked out of the service and loses access to Veterans Affairs benefits,” said James G. Fausone, a veterans disability lawyer with Legal Help For Veterans, PLLC. “Veterans advocates see cynical forces at play in the use of administrative discharges for reasons including misconduct, personality disorder and adjustment disorder.”
It is estimated that the Department of Defense will save between $5 billion and $20 billion in lifetime health care and benefits to the estimated 10,000 to 20,000 veterans with similar discharges, which some say should be reconsidered due to the soldiers’ underlying psychological conditions. When soldiers are discharged for reasons stemming from their mental anguish, they lose their health care benefits, and often, the only way they can get these mental problems treated.
“Department of Defense officials have denied they use improper discharges as a cost-saving measure and say discharge policies continue to evolve as they learn more about PTSD and traumatic brain injury,” Fausone said. “If you like a conspiracy, this has all the makings needed.”
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