Monday, May 29, 2017

V.A.’s Exclusion of Vets

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/28/opinion/veterans-administration.html?ref=opinion

Photo
An American soldier in an armored vehicle in the village of Darbasiyah, Syria, last month. CreditAssociated Press
To the Editor:
Re “War Wounds Often Precede ‘Misconduct’ in Discharges” (news article, May 17):
The Government Accountability Office has confirmed what veteran advocates already knew: Most service members discharged for “misconduct” experienced mental health stress that might explain their behavior. The Defense Department must stop this shameful practice. But it is too late for the department to help those it already discharged.
To look after veterans, we look to the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is V.A. regulation, not law or Pentagon policy, that leads to the exclusion of “other than honorable” veterans from medical care and basic services. And it is V.A. regulation that in effect ignores mental health, combat service and hardship service when deciding who will get veteran services and who will not, according to research we published last year.
The V.A. must do better. We asked the V.A. to change its regulations to stop exclusion of these deserving veterans. Congress must speak up, too. Only the Defense Department can prevent this problem, but we must not forget the veterans who have already been left behind.
BRADFORD ADAMS, SAN FRANCISCO
The writer is a policy advocate and supervising staff attorney for Swords to Plowshares.

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