Service Records Preventing Veterans From Obtaining Medical Care

Thousands of American veterans, including combat soldiers who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, are unable to obtain the medical assistance they need. The simple reason for this inability is that they are no longer considered veterans.
The U.S. Veterans Affairs Department treats service personnel for a variety of physical and psychological conditions. This care is particularly important when considering that the nation has been at war for more than 16 years. Veterans can continue to receive assistance from the VA after they retire from active service, provided that they were honorably discharged. Those who received less than honorable discharges are not eligible for such assistance, despite the fact that they may experience the same health problems as those who departed honorably.
Bad behavior in the military can result in a “less than honorable” discharge, although such misconduct is often related to the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that is experienced by many combat soldiers. In a strange “Catch-22” scenario, those suffering from the PTSD that may have led to their dishonorable discharge are unable to obtain treatment after they are out of the military. Some 125,000 Americans who served in the military during the modern war period have been refused assistance due to this policy. More about this issue is available at
Attempts to change the rules have been made in recent years so that service personnel involved in less serious offenses can obtain the help they need. Additionally, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that will extend mental health services to veterans who were discharged without honorable records, but the problem is expected to persist until the changes can be made.

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