SPONSORED:

Dems want Army probe of alleged wrongful discharges

Dems want Army probe of alleged wrongful discharges
© Greg Nash

A group of Senate Democrats wants the Army to investigate allegations that it dismissed thousands of soldiers for "misconduct" after they were diagnosed with mental health disorders.

Democrats sent a letter Wednesday to Eric Fanning, the acting undersecretary of the Army, and Gen. Mark Milley, the service's chief of staff, calling for an investigation by the Army's inspector general.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We are troubled by recent allegations that the U.S. Army is forcefully separating for misconduct servicemembers diagnosed with PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] or TBI [traumatic brain injury]. We are concerned that it may be easier to discharge servicemembers for minor misconduct—possibly related to mental health issues—than to evaluate them for conditions that may warrant a medical discharge," the senators wrote.

Democratic Sens. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinBiden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers Democrats want businesses to help get LGBT bill across finish line Democrats offer resolution denouncing white supremacists ahead of Trump trial MORE (Wis.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDemocrats: Minimum wage isn't the only issue facing parliamentarian Democrats plan crackdown on rising drug costs Overnight Health Care: Biden officials announce funding to track virus variants | Senate Dems unveil public option proposal | White House: Teacher vaccinations not required for schools to reopen MORE (Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerTrump administration halting imports of cotton, tomatoes from Uighur region of China Biden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status Questions and answers about the Electoral College challenges MORE (Calif.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues Democrats: Minimum wage isn't the only issue facing parliamentarian Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill MORE (Ohio), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOvernight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Minimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster New rule shakes up Senate Armed Services subcommittees MORE (Conn.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Biden administration to give Congress full classified briefing on Syria strikes by next week Senators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence MORE (Va.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharOpen-ended antitrust is an innovation killer FBI, DHS and Pentagon officials to testify on Capitol riot Five big takeaways on the Capitol security hearings MORE (Minn.), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyLawmakers commemorate one-year anniversary of Arbery's killing Democrats revive debate over calling impeachment witnesses LIVE COVERAGE: Senate trial moves to closing arguments MORE (Mass.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrats hesitant to raise taxes amid pandemic Jennifer Palmieri: 'Ever since I was aware of politics, I wanted to be in politics' Democrats in standoff over minimum wage MORE (Mont.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike House set for tight vote on COVID-19 relief package On The Money: Democrats scramble to save minimum wage hike | Personal incomes rise, inflation stays low after stimulus burst MORE (Ore.) signed the letter.

The move comes after NPR and Colorado Public Radio reported that the Army discharged more than 22,000 soldiers since 2009 for "misconduct" after they returned from Afghanistan or Iraq and were diagnosed with mental health issues or traumatic brain injuries.

The Army, according to the report, has conducted investigations into similar allegations, including reviewing soldiers' medical files.

But the senators wrote Wednesday that they believe the Army should conduct a full investigation, including determining whether the Army is violating defense policy.

According to the senators, the fiscal 2014 National Defense Authorization Act asked the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the type of cases highlighted in the radio stations' investigation.

The GAO in February recommended that the Defense Department and military branches create policies to better identify troops who are discharged for non-disability mental health reasons and ensure they are given an appropriate status.

The Defense Department largely concurred with the GAO report.

Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey was asked at the time about the allegations by the Army Times, but he noted that individual cases vary.

"It's hard to comment on that from a generalized term because there's no generalization to those things," he said. "They're individual soldier acts of indiscipline, and they're also individual care needs if they're injured, even if those injuries are not visible."