Pentagon to Begin Investigation into Potential Wrongful Discharges of Servicemembers with Mental Health Diagnoses

Bennet requested investigation following concerns that soldiers have been discharged for misconduct after behavioral health diagnoses

Washington, DC - The U.S. Army is responding to a request from Senator Michael Bennet to conduct an investigation into recent allegations that the Army wrongfully discharged soldiers for misconduct who had been diagnosed with mental health issues after returning from deployment. Army Secretary Erik K. Fanning announced that he has instructed senior Army leaders, including the Inspector General of the Army and the Auditor General of the Army, to thoroughly review the issues raised by Bennet and 11 other senators.

"We've heard serious concerns that soldiers have been wrongfully discharged for actions related to their behavioral health diagnoses," Bennet said. "We're glad this investigation will move forward so we can learn more facts. Our brave men and women in uniform sacrifice so much in service to our country, and we need to ensure they are treated fairly and receive the quality care they need."

In November, Bennet urged the Army investigate allegations that since 2009, it has separated more than 22,000 soldiers who have been diagnosed with mental health problems or Traumatic Brain Injury. A joint investigation by National Public Radio and Colorado Public Radio reported that the U.S. Army has discharged tens of thousands of servicemembers previously diagnosed with mental health disorders or TBI.

In December of 2014, Bennet passed a bill requiring the Government Accountability Office to study whether service members are being discharged for conduct related to Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), or other mental health diagnoses. The report also evaluates whether protocols, training, counseling, and treatments are in place relating to recognize and address mental health issues. The bill stemmed from concerns brought to him by Colorado veterans, including some members of his Veterans Working Group, who believed some service members may be receiving less than Honorable discharges due to behavior related to mental trauma, such as PTS.

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