Veterans/Veterans’ Benefits/One Woman’s Opinion
By – Sheri de Grom
My opinion about Veterans with ‘bad paper’ has changed over the years. Having worked in The Office of The Staff Judge Advocate (JAG) for many years [all during times of peace] legal was by the book and shades of gray were rarely allowed to shadow my thoughts.
Varying levels of bad paper discharges exist within the Armed Services:
 GENERAL DISCHARGE – For those whose service was generally satisfactory, but who engaged in minor misconduct or received non-judicial punishment.
 OTHER-THAN-HONORABLE DISCHARGE – An administrative action for those with behavior problems such as violence or use of illegal drugs.
 BAD CONDUCT DISCHARGE – Punishment for a military crime.
 DISHONORABLE DISCHARGE – For offenses such as murder or desertion.
Jim Salter with the Associated Press expressed his opinion on December 24, 2015, “There is a small percentage of folks who were court-martialed and convicted, and they have earned their bad paper.”
Exiting the military with a less-than-honorable discharge follows the service member for the rest of their lives: into the workforce, background checks, social relationships and perhaps most of all it precludes them from getting the benefits other veterans receive upon their discharge.
Never before have we seen combat situations where we’ve deployed our military an excessive number of times. Returning to combat zones requires more than a hug and a pat on the head. These men and women suffer injuries and anguish in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. If they’ve turned to drugs and alcohol to relieve their pain, who am I to judge?
Ex-military members who’ve sacrificed so much can’t turn to the Veterans’ Affairs for mental health problems, post-traumatic stress disorder, TBIs or any other injury. Those who want to go to college aren’t eligible for the GI Bill, the jobless get no assistance for career training and the homeless are excluded from vouchers.
The Department of Defense reported that more than 18,000 people left the military last year with ‘bad paper.’ More than 352,000 have been discharged with ‘bad paper’ since 2000.
Studies show those who are less-than-honorably discharged are far more likely to end up in prison than honorably discharged Veterans. They are also more likely to be suicidal and jobs are harder to get because background checks highlight an undesirable military discharge.
We’ve created a population that’s been segregated from the numerous agencies that serve Veterans. In the cases where intervention might have helped the soldier, it’s our responsibility to help, not turn them away. We owe these battle-fatigued Veterans a hand in returning to a civilian life wherein their hopes and dreams might become reality.
What do you think? Have times changed and should we bend the rules for some of the ‘bad paper’ returning after so many deployments or simply see these veterans as individuals who made bad choices?
OUR CURRENT STATUS
I’d originally thought I’d continue blogging about Tom’s and my journey through our latest medical nightmare but I’m too close to it on a daily basis. I learn something new about the mystery of Medicare everyday and I’m alarmed by how many see it as the answer to the U.S. healthcare crisis.
I’ll write more about our trip down death’s lane later. I cannot relive all that happened when BAPTIST HEALTH MEDICAL CENTER of LITTLE ROCK discharged Tom to home knowing without a doubt he probably would not survive! BAPTIST HEALTH advertises they provide amazing care for patients. If a hurried trip to death’s door is their definition of ‘AMAZING CARE,’ I can say they exceeded their goal beyond expectation.
THIS MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND
Let’s focus on the men and women of the Armed Services, both past and present. Please join me as we not only strive to change legislation for all Medicaire recipients’ but continue the fight for our Veterans and the benefits they rightfully earned.
Thank you for reading with me and I look forward to hearing from you. For those that believe Medicare is the answer for universal healthcare, please consider how long you wish to live.