20,000 Misconduct Discharges Since 2008 Saving DoD Billions in War-Related Disability Compensation

Good News for Veteran Discharged Without Benefits

More than 20,000 men and women have left the Army and Marines in the last four years with other-than-honorable discharges, jeopardizing their benefits and leaving some of them struggling to find treatment for health problems.

by Hal Bernton
Seattle Times, Sept. 8, 2012

Jarrid Starks, a troubled Army veteran who received the Bronze Star for Valor but was dismissed from service with an other-than-honorable discharge, has been granted health-care benefits by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Jarrid Starks received the Bronze Star Medal for Valor after serving tour in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but was ‘fired’ in May from his job in the Army at Fort Lewis after developing PTSD and engaging in misconduct at home while struggling to cope with his war experiences. Starks served more than seven years before he was removed under threat of felony conviction at court-martial. Upon his discharge, he was deemed ineligible for VA benefits and medical treatment for his war-related injuries. Since 2008, at least 20,000 Marines and soldiers have been discharged in misconduct cases similar to Starks. VA reviewed Starks’ case and recently said he was eligible to receive medical care for any injuries he suffered during his first tour of duty which was served under honorable conditions. (Seattle Times)

Starks was featured in an Aug. 12 Seattle Times story that examined the plight of veterans whose other-than-honorable discharges have put their veteran’s benefits at risk.

Starks had been told that it might take a year or more for the VA to undertake a review to see if he is eligible for benefits.

However, Starks, who requested the review in late May, received the VA decision on Aug. 31.

“I was really happy to get the news,” said Starks, who was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and now lives in Salem, Ore. “They are already calling me and getting me set up with health-care appointments.”

Starks, who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a twisted vertebra and a possible traumatic brain injury before leaving the service.

But during his last year in the Army, he repeatedly went AWOL and smoked marijuana. He ended up leaving the military last spring with an other-than-honorable discharge in lieu of a court-martial, and 90 days’ worth of prescription medication to treat his PTSD and other ailments.

Under federal law, the VA can review the cases of other-than-honorably discharged veterans to determine whether they are worthy of health care and disability benefits.

Nationally, VA officials have said they don’t know the average time it takes to process those claims.

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3 Responses

  1. That is exactly what happen to my son at Ft. Stewart Ga. He had just returned from Irag, ,re enlisted while there loved his career knew he needed mental health counseling but was be littled by his commanding rank telling him to get over it If it had not been for the poor leadership there which transpired into an out right cover up of the neglance and abuse to him, after he was discharged and labeled a troubled solider for misconduct because no one would help him until it had got way out of hand. After he finally got help from 2 suicide attempts they had him on so many prescp drugs, one being serquol, which has numerous lawsuits against it now, mixing drugs and the va using pre programed medical note progress notes worded to cover their butts and deny soliders when they file a calaim. its all a us govt conspirsary against our people, He did get his benefits after he got out for 8 months before overdosing…my only son….he wanted to soar with eagles but stuck with bunch of turkeys at Ft. Stewart Ga.
    Since he passed away in Fl. I have to get a lawyer there to represent his case for wrongful death. Its like finding a needle in a hay stack, but I will not stop and I will be heard. His father was a vietnam vet and I fought for 10 yrs to get what he deserved, is this the most disgraceful thing ever? Have to fight to get benefits you deserve, then theres the feres doctrine, the list just goes on and on….we need to join together and file a class action lawsuit for what the govt and va are doing and have been doing to our veterans, its got to stop,

    • Thank you for sharing this experience with us….it is such a common practice with the Behavioral Health and VA Systems that we will continue to see an increase in suicides, returning warriors and families put in mental hospitals, drugged & labeled with a Disorder so they can no longer function in our society, can’t find meaningful employment, put in jail, homeless, and not given adequate resources to meet basic human need requirements. SICK Care as it is in America–Not Health Care with comprehensive, extensive and intensive services. I am so sorry that your son had to experience such a loss.

  2. This is no way to support our injured warriors and their families. Any lawyers out here who would like to help our returning vets receive their benefits after being Chaptered Out of the Army without benefits, shamed and embarassed by their command while experiencing compensatory behaviors for their trauma and injuries? This is very common practice at Ft Bliss with injured warriors and I have had several returning vets attempt suicide following these shameful experiences. They are put out of the Army with their last month’s pay taken from them, reduced in rank and still waiting to receive disability benefits and secure employment. HELP!!!

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