Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
VA Will Begin Offering Mental Health Care For Vets With ‘Bad Paper’
Veterans with other-than-honorable discharges will be soon able to receive treatment for issues related to mental health from the Department of Veterans affairs. The announcement was made by David Shulkin, the VA secretary, during an evening meeting with the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Tuesday.
The issue was too important to wait for Congress to approve it, Shulkin said, adding that the change would take place as soon as possible, according to Military Times.
“We have some authorities to do that,” Shulkin said, reports Military Times. “So many veterans are just disconnected from our system. The 20 a day committing suicide are not getting the care they need.”
Veterans and their advocates have been arguing for the change for years. Commonly called “bad paper” discharges, OTH designations make a veteran ineligible for many VA benefits, including health care. For veterans with bad paper, this can lead to severe problems, and in a significant number of cases the discharge and the ensuing loss of a veteran’s benefits is an undeserved punishment.
In some of the cases where service members have been dismissed for erratic behavior, substance abuse, or other problems, those issues turned out to be underlying symptoms of a far more serious mental health issue. According to Military.com an estimated 22,000 veterans with mental illnesses have received an other-than-honorable discharge since 2009. Yet with a bad-paper discharge, a veteran loses access to the care that could improve their well-being. Denying these former service members access access to mental health care also dramatically increases their chances of suicide, advocates say.
“This shift in policy signals a willingness on the part of the VA to finally treat its most vulnerable veterans,” Kristofer Goldsmith, founder of High Ground Veterans Advocacy, told Task & Purpose. In 2007, Goldsmith says, he attempted suicide while serving in the Army, but received a general discharge instead of treatment for his post-traumatic stress disorder.
“We’re going to do whatever we can,” Shulkin said during the meeting. “We’re going to work with you. This is unacceptable, and we shouldn’t have to wait for Congress to force the issue.”
Though no specific timeline was given, Shulkin said he hopes the change will go into effect within a few months, with instructions for individual hospitals on how best to treat those veterans.
Based on Shulkin’s remarks, it appears that this change will only impact those with other-than-honorable discharges. “Bad paper” is often used to refer to bad-conduct and dishonorable discharges, as well.
Even so, for advocates like Goldsmith, this kind of policy change has been a long time coming. He is also the assistant director for policy and government affairs for Vietnam Veterans of America, and he has pushed this issue for years following his discharge in the Army.
The proposed change is “a recognition that denying healthcare to a combat veteran is nothing but harmful — but the devil is in the details,” he said.
“We still don’t know who will be eligible, and if they’ll have to jump through hoops to get the care that they desperately need.”
A new trailer for Netflix's Triple Frontier dropped last week, and it looks like a gritty mash-up of post-9/11 war dramas Zero Dark Thirty and Hurt Locker and crime thrillers Narcos and The Town.
The Distinguished Service Cross was made for guys like Sgt. Daniel Cowart, who literally tackled and "engaged...in hand to hand combat" a man wearing a suicide vest while he was on patrol in Iraq.
So it's no wonder he's having his Silver Star upgraded to the second-highest military award.
Drones have been used in conflicts across the globe and will play an even more important role in the future of warfare. But, the future of drones in combat will be different than what we have seen before.
The U.S. military can set itself apart from others by embracing autonomous drone warfare through swarming — attacking an enemy from multiple directions through dispersed and pulsing attacks. There is already work being done in this area: The U.S. military tested its own drone swarm in 2017, and the UK announced this week it would fund research into drone swarms that could potentially overwhelm enemy air defenses.
I propose we look to the amoeba, a single-celled organism, as a model for autonomous drones in swarm warfare. If we were to use the amoeba as this model, then we could mimic how the organism propels itself by changing the structure of its body with the purpose of swarming and destroying an enemy.
The Army has awarded a $575 million contract to BAE Systems for the initial production of its replacement for the M113 armored personnel carriers the service has been rocking downrange since the Vietnam War.
President Donald Trump has formally outlined how his administration plans to stand up the Space Force as the sixth U.S. military service – if Congress approves.
On Tuesday, Trump signed a directive that calls for the Defense Department to submit a proposal to Congress that would make Space Force fall under Department of the Air Force, a senior administration official said.