Many soldiers get boot for 'pre-existing' mental illness
St. Louis Post-Dispatch September 29, 2007
By Philip Dine
WASHINGTON -- Thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq - as many as 10 a day - are being discharged by the military for mental health reasons. But the Pentagon isn't blaming the war. It says the soldiers had "pre-existing" conditions that disqualify them for treatment by the government.
Many soldiers and Marines being discharged on this basis actually suffer from combat-related problems, experts say. But by classifying them as having a condition unrelated to the war, the Defense Department is able to quickly get rid of troops having trouble doing their work while also saving the expense of caring for them.
The result appears to be that many actually suffering from combat-relatedproblems such as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries don't get the help they need.
Working behind the scenes, Sens. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., have written and inserted into the defense authorization bill a provision that would make it harder for the Pentagon to discharge thousands of troops. The Post-Dispatch has learned that the measure has been accepted into the Senate defense bill and will probably become part of the Senate-House bill to be voted on this week.
read more here