The AP’s Anne Flaherty has put together a story that illuminates the Army’s refusal to admit that it could have misdiagnosed (and discharged) hundreds of soldiers who may have had PTSD or traumatic brain injury instead of a personality disorder. Keep in mind that a discharge for “personality disorder” means no veterans’ benefits and a lifetime of stigma. A diagnosis of PTSD or injury, on the other hand, means treatment will be covered by the government.
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The Army, for its part, has decided there’s nothing unusual about the following chain of events (taken from Flaherty’s story):
- The Army “discharged about a 1,000 soldiers a year between 2005 and 2007 for having a personality disorder.”
- In 2007, The Nation‘s Joshua Kors writes a cover story exposing the Army’s apparent habit of diagnosing soldiers with a personality disorder instead of considering the possibility of PTSD or traumatic brain injury.
- Soon after, “the Defense Department changed its policy and began requiring a top-level review of each case to ensure post-traumatic stress or a brain injury wasn’t the underlying cause.”
- Sure enough, “the annual number of personality disorder cases dropped by 75 percent.”
- At the same time, the number of post-traumatic stress disorder cases has soared. By 2008, more than 14,000 soldiers had been diagnosed with PTSD — twice as many as two years before.
- Army officials “reviewed the paperwork of all deployed soldiers dismissed with a personality disorder between 2001 and 2006” and said they “did not find evidence that soldiers with PTSD had been inappropriately discharged with personality disorder.”