I am doing research and taking alarming diagnostic tests online, because of an article in The Nation “Disposable Soldiers” by Joshua Kors that highlights the case of Chuck Luther , a soldier discharged from the army after multiple tours of duty and exposure to combat conditions with a supposed diagnosis of Personality Disorder. Considered a pre-existing condition, this diagnosis permits the army to deny the soldier a lifetime of disability benefits and long-term medical care. And to add salt to the wound, a soldier also has to give back a portion of their re-enlistment bonus, which may exceed the amount of a final paycheck. In short, it is entirely within the military’s financial interest to overlook an alleged pre-existing condition during recruitment screening and then discover it later after a soldier has suffered trauma or brain injury.
This suspect practice has been going on for years. In 2007 then Senator Obama introduced a bill to stop all PD discharges. It was defeated, and the PD discharges are ongoing. Joshua Kors writes:
“Since 2001 more than 22,600 soldiers have been discharged with personality disorder. That number includes soldiers who have served two and three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
There must be evidence that the deviation is stable and of long duration, having its onset in late childhood or adolescence.
Organic brain disease, injury, or dysfunction must be excluded as the possible cause of the deviation.
These two criteria alone call into question the plethora of military discharges for PD. If a diagnosis requires evidence that the deviation is “stable and of long duration,” why wasn’t it made during a medical screening process or discovered during basic training? And in combat situations, how can a brain injury be ruled out? In Chuck Luther’s case a mortar exploded in his guard house and slammed his head into a cement wall. He suffered partial loss of hearing, blindness in one eye, debilitating migraines, persistent shoulder pain but was given (and ultimately forced to accept) a discharge for PD.
A much more common and accurate diagnosis for soldiers who have seen combat is Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder. Of course it cannot be dismissed as pre-existing. In this country there are sharp divisions of opinion about the two wars we continue to fight. Let’s unify in holding our military and our government accountable for fair recompense and respectful care for returning soldiers. If we cannot afford to treat the wounds of war—physical, psychological, and spiritual— we should not be asking our soldiers to suffer them.
For ways to help: http://www.ptsdsupport.net/ptsd_given_misdiagnosis.html