The U.S. Army has kicked out more than 22,000 soldiers since 2009 for “misconduct,” after they returned from Iraq and Afghanistan and were diagnosed with mental health disorders and traumatic brain injuries. That means many of those soldiers are not receiving the crucial treatment or retirement and health care benefits they would have received with an honorable discharge.
The Army has taken these actions despite a 2009 federal law designed to ensure that troops whose mental illness might be linked to the wars aren’t cast aside.
That’s the finding of a joint investigation by NPR and Colorado Public Radio that listened to hours of secret recordings, looked at hundreds of pages of confidential military documents and interviewed dozens of sources both inside and outside the base.
One of the Army’s top officials who oversee mental health, Lt. Col. Chris Ivany, told NPR and CPR that the Army is not violating the spirit of the 2009 law by dismissing those soldiers for misconduct.