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Veterans with 'bad paper' discharges getting second look.

* Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office released a report detailing thousands of potentially improper discharges the Department of Defense (DOD) issued from 2011 to 2015, related primarily to veterans diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder.

The report focused on how those injuries can affect behaviors and concluded that disciplinary problems related to those conditions could have led to a number of general or other than honorable discharges.

In response to the findings, the DOD has released new guidance to allow more veterans time to have their "bad paper" discharges reviewed and potentially changed. Specifically, veterans with discharges related to military sexual trauma or mental health conditions no longer have a 15-year time limit to request review of their discharges.

"The new guidance clarifies that the liberal consideration policy includes conditions resulting from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, sexual assault or sexual harassment," said Air Force Lt. Col. Reggie Yager, the acting director of legal policy in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. "The policy is meant to ease the burden on veterans and give them a reasonable opportunity to establish the extenuating circumstances of their discharge."

The Department of Veterans Affairs generally accepts discharges characterized as honorable or general (under honorable conditions) for purposes of veterans benefits. However, there are some VA benefit limitations for those who have general discharges.

If a veteran received an other than honorable discharge, he or she is generally disqualified from receiving VA health care.

According to the report, 91,764 service members were discharged for misconduct during the 2011-2015 timespan. Sixty-two percent of those were diagnosed with PTSD, TBI or other conditions such as adjustment, anxiety, bipolar or substance use disorders within two years before leaving the service.

To find out more about the new guidelines, visit defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/1292833/dod-releases-clarifying-guidance-to-veterans-regarding-discharges-and-military. If you need help with a discharge review, please contact your local DAV national service officer, dav.org/veterans/find-your-local-office.

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Title Annotation:NEWS for VETERANS
Publication:DAV Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 2017
Words:332
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