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Monday, May 28, 2012


Many of us do take time for special activities to honor veterans.  For others, the intensity of meaning can get a little lost in a long weekend—but please remember those who fought and served to give us the freedoms we have as you’re kicking back at the grill.  If not you or your family members, remember those who fought so you could enjoy everything around you.

To veterans dating back to World War I, up through more recent wars, and those who kept the peace, THANK YOU ALL.


In May, 2008, then-Senator Barak Obama demanded an investigation (see politico) into “reports that a supervisor at a Texas Veterans' Affairs facility told staff members to refrain from diagnosing returning war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder in order to reduce costs.  The Washington Post had broken the story of emails that have since been widely quoted from Army Dr. Norma Perez' May 1, 2008 email to staff with the subject line “Suggestion.”   Her idea was to "refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) straight out.  Consider a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder."   Her letter began, “Given that we are having more and more compensation-seeking veterans…” and continues “we really don’t … have the time to do the extensive testing that should be done to determine PTSD.” 

"Simply put, Ms. Perez's email is outrageous," Obama wrote in the letter. "As you well know, PTSD is the most prevalent mental disorder afflicting our returning...veterans."

"Too many veterans see the VA as a bureaucracy with the singular goal of denying services and benefits to veterans," said Obama. "This recent incident merely serves to promote that impression."

So, now-President Obama is well-aware of this issue and certainly has the pull to get things moving three years later.  However, not much has happened to correct the problem.


The New York Times reported last month (4/15/2012) via their Bay Citizen report Paperwork Buries Veterans’ Disability Claims by Aaron Glantz:

Even after Ian Rodriguez left the Marine Corps in 2006, he still felt like he was in Iraq. The burly veteran, who played defensive end on the College of San Mateo football team before joining the military, would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night at home in San Bruno and grab his girlfriend, putting both hands around her neck.

“I had no ill will toward her,” Mr. Rodriguez, 28, said in an interview, “but while I was asleep I felt like I was still back there, and I acted it out.” He said he slept with a .40-caliber Glock pistol under his pillow and drank a bottle of whiskey every night to help him forget the war and fall asleep.

In December 2006, Mr. Rodriguez filed a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs, arguing that he deserved a monthly disability check and priority mental health care from the agency because of post-traumatic stress disorder. More than five years later, he is still waiting for a final determination on his case.

Mr. Rodriguez is one of 870,000 veterans nationwide who are waiting for a decision on a disability claim from the V.A. The waiting list has more than doubled since President Obama took office, despite the appropriation of more than $300 million for a new computer system and the hiring of thousands of claims professionals nationwide.

.   .   .

While the agency has modestly increased the number of claims processed each year, the number of new claims filed has increased by 48 percent over the last four years as a flood of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans return home and file disability claims seeking compensation for wounds suffered in the line of duty (677,000 as of October 2011).

At the same time, 231,000 Vietnam veterans have filed fresh disability claims related to diseases that the government only recently acknowledged stemmed from the spraying of the toxic defoliant Agent Orange.


Investigative Journalist Joshua Kors of The Nation magazine has worked and researched in this area for years, bringing the issue to the front page of the New York Times and other publications.  He provided testimony at the HEARING BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS Personality Disorder Discharges: Impact on Veterans’ Benefits, September 15, 2010
U. S. House of Representatives with Hon. Bob Filner [Chairman of the Committee] presiding.

Joshua Kors, investigative journalist with The Nation magazine, testified in part:

In 2008, after several Congressmen expressed outrage at these discharges, President Bush signed a law requiring the Pentagon to study PD discharges. Five months later, the Pentagon delivered its report. Its conclusion: Not a single soldier had been wrongly diagnosed and not a single soldier had been wrongly discharged. During this 5-month review, Pentagon officials interviewed no one, not even the soldiers whose cases they were reviewing.

Three years ago, during a hearing on personality disorder discharges, military officials sat in these seats and vowed to this Committee to fix this problem. Three years later, nothing has happened.

Sergeant Charles Luther testified as well.  You will probably be shocked by his experience as well as what military and congressional representatives have to say:

Part of his testimony not in the video was a plea to start taking action at last (this was in 2010):

At the very same time that this Committee was having Specialist John Town testify in front of them in 2007, I was abused, broken, and discharged for the very same thing this he was testifying about. Please do not let us be here in 3 years again with another story of shame. The lack of care and concern, coupled with the stigma of asking for help that we have allowed to be put on us, has to be totally removed. Then and only then will we see the veteran’s homelessness rate drop, the active duty in veterans suicide rate drop, and the skyrocketing of divorce decrease. The senior level of the Armed Forces get it. But they can talk about it, design plans for it, and make PowerPoints about it, but if it is not being enforced at the soldiers' level, it is worthless.

Joshua Kors’ testimony explained more about the military’s use of “Personality Disorder” discharges used to force our soldiers out of the military without paying benefits, without helping with medical and psychological treatment:

And that is something you see with all of these discharges. When you have wounds that clearly don't come from a personality disorder, a cleaner way to fudge it is to give a nonpsychological, nonaccurate diagnosis; NOS. You won't find that in any of the psychological manuals. But it prevents them from stating specifically what the issue is.

And, of course, these discharges are being used for some of the most absurd things. Of course, with him (Sgt. Luther), with blindness. With John Town here 3 years ago after he was wounded by the rocket and won the Purple Heart, they said he wasn't wounded. That his deafness came from personality disorder. I think about Sergeant Jose Rivera. His arms and legs were punctured by grenade shrapnel. They said those shrapnel wounds were caused by personality disorder. Sailor Samantha Spitz, her pelvis and two bones in her ankle were fractured. They said that her fractured pelvis was caused by personality disorder.

In a case that really touched me of Specialist Bonnie Moore, she developed an inflamed uterus during service. They said her profuse vaginal bleeding was caused by personality disorder. Civilian doctors thought it was something a little more severe. She went to a hospital in Germany where they removed her uterus and appendix. But after being given that personality disorder discharge and denied all benefits, she and her teenage daughter became homeless. She called me just because she was concerned that at the homeless shelter her daughter would be raped.

Since 2001—and until 2010 (more probable since), over 25,600 soldiers have been pressed into signing “personality disorder” discharges saving the armed forces $14.2 billion dollars in disability and medical benefits.

Sgt. Chuck Luther probably said it best during his testimony in 2010:

“I hold two things very dear to me this day, and it comes from the noncommissioned officers creed: the accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my soldiers.”

This concept shouldn’t be so hard for the ones sending our troops to war on our behalf. 

Please write letters to representatives asking them to end this disgraceful practice forcing them out of deserved and necessary medical treatment with false diagnoses, as well as asking for good treatment for all our veterans.  Sgt. Luther has gone on to assist over 4000 fellow soldiers dealing with aftereffects of military service and wrongful denial of benefits through his organization Disposable Warriors listed below.

Wouldn’t it be great if both Democrats and Republicans put veterans front and center at the Conventions this Fall with an announcement that this problem had been eliminated (and it were true)?  All vets should have all medical and psychological care they need.  All discharges forced due to psychological “pre-existing conditions” should be set aside until complete, independent review is done.  Our vets deserve better.  They gave their best.



This information is quoted from a list compiled at to assist vets, for anyone in crisis.  There is more information at his site.

Suicide / Crisis

Veterans Crisis Line

            (800) 273-8255 (TALK), ext. 1
            If you're thinking about hurting yourself or others, call this number.  It's a hotline set up by the       Veterans Health Administration, giving you 24/7 access to trained counselors who know what you're going through.

General Assistance
            Disposable Warriors
Sgt. Chuck Luther, Director

            Many know Sgt. Chuck Luther from news coverage of his brave service             ( and from his powerful Congressional testimony             (  Luther's organization, Disposable Warriors, assists soldiers who are being wrongfully discharged and denied benefits.  Currently he works at Fort Hood in Texas, where he has been able to take rapid action on behalf of soldiers facing a wide of issues.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry that you used Charles Luther as your poster boy, but the guy is a lying, disgraceful human being. I was there when his "mortar attack" happened, so was my medic SPC Johnson. The mortar didn't hit the tower and at the time of the attack, Luther was complaining about how his wife was cheating on him and he had to get back home...BEFORE THE MORTAR ATTACK!!! He hit the deck and banged his head. If that is cause for PTSD, every Iraq/ Afghan vet should qualify. What about the other 80 Soldiers that were on the COP when it happened? Very few of them have any issues. Chuck Luther came back from leave and HAD TO, HAD TO, HAD TO get back immediately. I'm glad he is helping guys who probably were ligitemately screwed by the system, it is too bad that you are wrapping your mind around the idea that this guy is your hero...that is totally laughable. Ask anyone that served honorably on that COP what they thought of him. Angel Sandoval was a bad choice since he was kicked out for lying, stealing and general unsoldierly behavior