Posted by: Kevin | March 27, 2007

Are we really Doing this to Our Soldiers?

If this is true, then we don’t deserve to win any war.  We don’t deserve to have an army or national security or anything.  The Nation describes the nightmare endured by Specialist Jon Town, who was wounded in October of 2004 while serving in Ramadi.

A soldier honored twelve times during his seven years in uniform, Town has spent the last three struggling with deafness, memory failure and depression. By September 2006 he and the Army agreed he was no longer combat-ready.

But instead of sending Town to a medical board and discharging him because of his injuries, doctors at Fort Carson, Colorado, did something strange: They claimed Town’s wounds were actually caused by a “personality disorder.” Town was then booted from the Army and told that under a personality disorder discharge, he would never receive disability or medical benefits.

So having a 107-millimeter rocket explode 2 feet from your head = a preexisting personality disorder.  Better still, hearing loss = personality disorder.  Specialist Town isn’t alone either. 

A six-month investigation has uncovered multiple cases in which soldiers wounded in Iraq are suspiciously diagnosed as having a personality disorder, then prevented from collecting benefits.

And here’s the money shot.

One military official says doctors at his base are doing more than withholding this information from wounded soldiers; they’re actually telling them the opposite: that if they go along with a 5-13, they’ll get to keep their bonus and receive disability and medical benefits. The official, who demanded anonymity, handles discharge papers at a prominent Army facility. He says the soldiers he works with know they don’t have a personality disorder. “But the doctors are telling them, this will get you out quicker, and the VA will take care of you.

So someone out there in internet land tell me this isn’t true.  Please tell me we haven’t stooped this low in screwing over our soldiers.  Because this really crosses a line for me.  We aren’t worth defending.

Hat Tip to Donklephant
Also written about at Corrente last week
and at The News Blog back in November

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Responses

  1. Seems the reporting is biased on this one. Mr. Town despite the Army determination has the right to apply for benefits in the VA. He was also, if enrolled, eligible for medical treatment based on his clearly established injuries (hearing loss, concussion, etc) and no doubt is a Purple Heart recipient so that is an automatic first priority customer in the VA system. I suspect Mr. Kors has a political agenda and wants to get in on the coat tails of the “Walter Reed” debacle. One question, where was everyone 2 years ago when Mr. Town was having all the trouble? A sobering thought.

    I think the poor guy has a post concussional syndrome. Look that up Mr. Kors.

  2. I am the “Mr. Unnamed Official”.

    Let me give you a small portion of what personally happened to me. I am an Iraq War Veteran who came home from Iraq with many issues, one being mental related. So I too sought help from the Mental Health professions at the Army Hospital . On the first visit and within the first 15 minutes of the one on one with the Psyche I was told that I could be out of the Army within 2 weeks if I took a personality disorder discharge. I went home that evening and looked up AR 635-200 chapter 5-13 and read about it (being the army geek that I am). I went back the next day and told my doctor that I didn’t feel that a personality disorder was what I had. My doctor immediately started the paperwork to begin the MEB process. 4 months later my 10 year military career came to an end with the PEB giving me a 30% disability rating which made me medically retired. I now receive half my base pay, all military installation benefits to include commissary and PX privileges and Tricare Prime for me and my family. Even though I will have this disability for the rest of my life, I find myself lucky that I went home that evening and read the regulation. Jon Town believed his doctor and chooses not to read the regulation. Jon Town was an infantry soldier who listens to his leaders, he was trained to listen and respond to orders. If someone tells him to do something, he does it. No questions asked. He trusted a doctor, a jag officer and his unit commander. All these people are part of the Discharge system.

    After being discharged, I decided the only thing I knew was soldiering and I missed being around troops. So I went to work as an out processor. Myself and another 20 year retired veteran are the only two that do this part of the out processing here at our installation. We were both there the day Jon Town came in. The 20 year vet (Paul) was so disgusted when he heard Town’s story and after taking care of more and more Iraq vets with personality disorders said to me “we need to do something about this”.

    I agree with you that their were many in-house organizations that this could have been brought to, but we felt it was better for the discharged soldier to tell the story rather than an employee of the Defense Department.

    Josh Kors doesn’t finish the story so let me. Jon Town went to his congressman who made this a big issue with my installation and the Pentagon. After many months of work, Jon Town’s debt to the military was wiped away and he also received payment for Separation Pay due to the fact that he had served over 6 years and was involuntarily discharge. The Pentagon asked Town, in his words “To shut up about this”, which obviously he didn’t.

    Paul and I give out the phone number of numerous Veterans Service Organizations and Veterans Advocacy agency to help these soldiers fix this issue. We also have helped some of these agency’s fix this issue with the DOD. We have had numerous visits from Senator Kit Bond (R), Senator Barbara Boxer (D), and Senator Barrack Obama (D) who have come to fix this problem.

    The number of personality disorders here at this installation has declined severely since Josh Kors started writing his piece. I know that the article was slanted and I tried to help Mr. Kors stay unbiased since this is not a political issue. I didn’t know that it was going to be in the Nation (my fault, should have asked), I’d rather it had been on the cover of USA Today or Time. Something that has a better reputation than the obviously far-left leaning The Nation. Our sole purpose of getting this story out was to show the American people that we as a nation must take care of our Veterans. We owe it to every American hero.

    Lastly, I would like to apologize for a few things. One, I wish Mr. Kors had understood or maybe I should have explained better the difference between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs. Second, I remain unnamed for selfish reasons, I need to feed my children and I just don’t trust the Federal Government.

  3. Iraq Veteran, I completely understand the desire for anonymity (sp?), especially for something as controversial as this. Assuming you are who you claim to be, let me say thank you for trying to fix this glaring problem. I am very glad that neither Jon Town, nor you have “shut up about this” because people need to know when the government is fucking something up and other servicemen/women need to be protected from this.

    My experience in the Corporate world has taught me that the larger an organization grows the more capable it is of making inhumane and shortsighted decisions. No organization is larger than the DoD and encouraging soldiers to seek an AR 635-200 chapter 5-13 discharge certainly qualifies as both inhumane and shortsighted. Stories like that of Jon Town help to humanize what would otherwise be a difficult to understand situation, regardless of the messenger. They also help to highlight the long term cost to the military’s reputation. Thanks for your visit to this site and good luck in your continued efforts to help take care of our veterans.

  4. I am going thru the same problem with the Army. I came home to enjoy R&R and had issues while here at home. Then the Army kept me back from returning to my unit out in the field. I have been going to the Mental health clinic here on my post attending a once a week group and no one on one counseling. I have seen two psychologists for a period of one hour or so total and they have come to the decision of chaptering me out under 5-13. Im not happy about this. I have been in the Army for ten years. I have three deployments under my belt and years of experience. But the Army has quickly decided to let me go under a personality disorder. I have started the fight to keep me in or at the very least get what I as a veteran deserve. I have contacted my congressman and requested an inquiry into my health care. I am worried and very scared because I have a family that fully depends on my sole income and health care benefits. In addition how hard is it going to be for me to find a good job with a personality disorder discharge as the sole reason on DD 214? So as you can see I do have a reason to worry.

  5. I recently went to Findlay, OH to meet Jon Town and hear his story first hand. His story is a sad one. And what is more outrageous is that we haven’t yet seen or heard more than the tip of the iceberg.

    America, this is SHAMEFUL! Anyone who is not outraged is not paying attention!

  6. I dont even know my rights, what are they? does anyone know? my understanding is that the army is supposed to read me my chapter 5-13 and that hasnt happened yet. All that I have received is a 4856 or a counseling statement stating that Im being chaptered out of the military. All of this I believe is because I truly believe that I can be rehabilitated. I have asked for help from the mental health providers but to no avail. It is dishearting that this is happening to me right now and more than likely to other soldiers as well. I have already started to clear my post against my will. I started a congressional inquiry. My commander received the inquiry on Thursday of last week and on Friday I received notice that Im starting to clear this week. The army wants me out by the 20th of this month. I have no job. No place to live. Plus I also have a family to support. I have contacted everyone from IG, to patient representatives to my congressman. I even brought my issue to US Senate!!. The good out of this is that I want to stay in the military service not get out. I have put in a lot of time and effort and made multiple sacrifices. I love what I do. But the military has turn their back on me. At the very least is what I see. Any advice for me from anyone?

  7. I recently heard of this story about Jon Town. There’s a bit of effort out there right now that I think will bring some more national attention to the issue. I hope it push an immediate effort into the cause. It’s nice to know there’s some “real” feedback out here on the www!

  8. I am a Vietnam Combat Veteran and I have been fighting with the VA and our Govt. for 37 years.
    Yes I believe that soldiers get screwed.

    • By the time you read this I will have put a .45 cal FMJ through my FUCKING BRAIN. I am so FUCKING SICK of all this shit I no longer can go on. Let me tell you..the BVA is NO FRIEND.! They have FUCKED ME since 1971 when I came back from Vietnam serving 2 tours and having been on record in nam at my discharge that I have life long dibilitating physical problems…of course it took 20 fucking years for the VA to say so. However, they still want to fuck me over..GOOD LUCK MY IRAG brothers in arms…I hope what we have done help you..but do nOT count on it.

      • Good bye! My Brothers at arms..may God find you.

  9. I know that this is a dead thread but i just thought that I would let everyone know that I have been interviewed by PBS show called NOW in regards of this issue on Chapter 5-13 Personality Disorder. The show will air in June. You may want to check your listings and see when it will air for your local Public Broadcasting channel. I beat the system, I am getting the care that I needed. I am a part of the Warrior Transition Unit.. A unit designed for soldiers that have been injured physically or psychologically in the war. Once Im done getting the necesary care I will be released to a unit so I can return to conduct my normal duties.

  10. This type of story is unfortunately so common at each WTU and CBWTU.
    There are only a handful of really good doctors and they are seriously overloaded with patients. Soldiers are not getting the care they deserve! The military is doing everything they can to try to discredit the good doctors evaluations so they can deny benefits.Some of these so called doctors will diagnose something totally far out, and when it is medically ruled out, they act like they can control every aspect of the soldiers medical care, which will basically be none! I know this will come to a head eventually and someone with a backbone will do something to stop it! I am a wife of a wounded warrior. I have watched the military screw my poor husband over repeatedly. They will lie, cheat, alter and “lose” medical records to prevent a soldier from getting the benefits he is entitled to after he is wounded seriously, and now is damaged goods to our Military. He is no longer able to go back into the fight, so is, therefore worthless to our ARMY! The US Army is no longer just the proud and the brave! Now we have the government employed cowards who are trying to destroy our soldiers after they have fought for our freedom! The soldiers themselves are the only heroes! The system is designed to destroy whatever is left of the wounded soldiers lives and their familie’s existance! The cruelty and disrespect shown to most of our injured warriors is appalling!
    Shame on you government employees for how you abuse our brave soldiers!
    You treat them all like malingerers! Their families know how truly injured they are! What goes around comes around! I pity you government employees who are always trying to stab our soldiers in the back!


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