Guest Author - Evelyn Rainey
As more and more of our soldiers return from the desert, we as a nation must face the consequences of this war against tyranny. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is devastating this generation of soldiers. The silent killer of Viet Nam veterans, this agonizing and debilitating problem is only just now being recognized openly.
Not only PTSD haunts our veterans; due to the nature of most explosives used in battle today, Traumatic Brain Injury is the price a great number of our wounded must pay for the service they have provided for our country.
North Carolina Representative Walter B. Jones, Jr sponsored HR 1701 on 3/25/2009 and I strongly suggest everyone reading this article send him a card of thanks or email him directly from his website. The PTSD/TBI Guaranteed Review for Heroes Act asks To amend title 10, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Defense to establish a special review board for certain former members of the Armed Forces with post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury, and for other purposes.
Specifically, HR 1701 is asking to amend Chapter 79 of Title 10 of the United States Code by inserting after section 1553 the following new section:
This part sets up a board of not less than five members, one of whom must be a health care professional from a field of medicine relevant to the matter being reviewed.
Within fifteen years after an individual was discharged or dismissed from military service, a request can be made by or on behalf of the individual for his/her records to be reviewed. This request can come from the individual, a member of congress, or a surviving spouse, next of kin, or legal representative of that person.
Once the request has been made, the special review board will take into consideration three things:
1. the records of the Armed Force concerned, including an evaluation of the actions of the covered individual before and after a deployment in support of a contingency operation;
2. the treatment or lack of treatment received by the covered individual for post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury; and
3. such other evidence as may be presented to the board.
If the case is brought before this review board, it can not also be brought in front of a service review agency.
Based on their findings, the special review board may change the discharge or dismissal of the individual to honorable
The individualís records will be corrected.
This section sets off deadlines and establishes definitions for covered individual, health care professional, and Member of Congress.
As for the soldiers who are currently deployed and suffer from PTSD or TBI, Section 3 sets out specific guidelines to ensure that these soldiers are not dismissed or discharged dishonorably based solely on their physical/mental condition.
If a physician, clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, or other appropriate health care professional determines in an examination under this paragraph that a member who was deployed in support of a contingency operation has (or may have) post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury, the Secretary concerned shall refer the member for evaluation by a physical evaluation board under section 1222 of this title; and may not separate the member from an Armed Force until the Secretary considers the results of the evaluation.
After the physical evaluation takes place, two things are considered. If the board determines that the member is unfit to perform the duties of the member's office, grade, rank, or rating because of post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury, the Secretary concerned shall retire or separate the member . If the board determines that the member is fit to perform the duties of the member's office, grade, rank, or rating, the Secretary concerned shall take into account the findings of the board in the course of any separation of the member from an Armed Force.
As of 4/27/2009, HR 1701 has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel.
Let your congressmen know how you feel about this amendment. If you know of someone who was discharged from the service in spite of suffering from PTSD and/or TBI, let them know about this Bill. If you know of someone serving in the military who is also suffering from PTSD or TBI, help them protect themselves by knowing about this bill. Advocate for them if they are not capable of doing so. Speak up.