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Report Says Most Troops Discharged For Misconduct Had PTSD, Other Brain Injuries

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A report issued by the Government Accountability Office states that the majority of soldiers discharged from the military for misconduct from 2011 to 2015 suffered from a number of mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries.

Of the 91,764 men and women released from service, 57,141, or 62%, had been diagnosed with PTSD, a brain injury and other mental health conditions that caused misconduct in the two years before they left the military, New York Daily News reports. Other disorders included adjustment and alcohol-related conditions.

Among the 57,141 discharged troops, 13,283, or 23%, garnered an “other than honorable” discharge, disqualifying them from claiming health benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs.

The GAO report also discovered that the Army and Marine Corps did not comply with Department of Defense policies regarding dismissal from service due to misconduct. According to the study, not all soldiers received training to identify brain injury symptoms, when Pentagon rules dictate that all officers should be trained.

The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center says that over 313,816 members were diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury from 2000 to 2014.

The GAO gave five recommendations based on the report’s results. Four of them have been accepted by the Department of Defense. The GAO also told the Pentagon to advise the Air Force and Navy to take a closer look at the inconsistencies in their screening and training policies, which the department did not agree to.

A health official with the Department of Defense, David Smith, dismissed the GAO report on the basis that it grossly exaggerated the number of service members with PTSD and brain injuries. He added that the report creates the “false impression” that most soldiers who were dismissed for misconduct had mental health conditions that led to their actions, and subsequent removal from service.

The report was mandated by Congress, and for the first time, combined military medical data along with information from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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