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Obama, Bond Applaud Senate Passage of Amendment to Expedite the Review of Personality Disorder Discharge Cases

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Obama, Bond Applaud Senate Passage of Amendment to Expedite the Review of Personality Disorder Discharge Cases

Budget provision provides resources to speed correction of military records and upgrade discharges

U.S. Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Kit Bond (R-MO) today praised the Senate's passage of their amendment to the FY 2009 Budget Resolution to expedite the military's review of cases in which service members may have been improperly diagnosed with a personality disorder and subsequently discharged. According to reports last year, the Department of Defense (DOD) inappropriately and inconsistently discharged service members who suffered combat-related psychological injuries such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or closed head injuries such as Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs). Over the last six years, Defense Department records indicate that over 22,500 personality disorder discharges have been processed; or on average 10 service members have been discharged per day, every day in that time. Such discharges can result in the loss of some benefits and care for wounded veterans.

In December 2007, Obama and Bond, along with Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), called on President Bush to temporarily halt this practice and to create a Special Review Board to examine these cases.

"With thousands of service members suffering from the less visible wounds of war, reports that the Pentagon may be improperly diagnosing and discharging service members with personality disorders are unacceptable," said Senator Obama. "These heroes have made incredible sacrifices for our nation, and they should not have to face another battle at home to receive the care and benefits they have earned. I am proud that this amendment will add resources to expedite the review of such cases. We will continue to demand that the Administration and the Pentagon halt this practice until air-tight procedures are in place."

"The federal government has a lifelong responsibility to care for volunteers who have served honorably in combat, whether their injuries are physical or mental. It is time for our government to accept the visible guilt in their failure to treat our wounded veterans' invisible injuries," said Bond. "This review is essential to give all our troops a chance to have their stories heard, their benefits restored, and any stigma taken off their records."

With increases in combat-related psychological injuries (such as PTSD) and closed-head injuries (such as TBIs), there appear to be instances in which service members suffering from less visible combat wounds are being misdiagnosed with a pre-existing personality disorder, which can result in the loss of some benefits and care. When these wounded warriors subsequently decide to seek a correction of their records, they can encounter significant delays and red tape at their respective military Boards for Correction of Military Records.

While fundamental improvements are still necessary to the military's management and care for our wounded warriors, this important amendment provides additional resources for the Boards for Correction of Military Records to expedite the review of such discharge cases.

The Obama-Bond amendment is supported by the National Veterans Legal Services Program, Veterans for Common Sense, and Disabled American Veterans.

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