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Veterans Clinic Assists Vietnam Veterans of America in Obtaining Records That Reveal Hundreds of Illegal Personality Disorder Discharges

The United States military has a personality disorder discharge problem, according to a report released March 22 by the Vietnam Veterans of America and several of its Connecticut chapters. The report, “Casting Troops Aside: The United States Military’s Illegal Personality Disorder Discharge Problem,” is based on records obtained from the Department of Defense through federal Freedom of Information Act litigation. Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic represented VVA in the litigation and also prepared the report.

Since fiscal year 2001, the military has discharged more than 31,000 service members with an alleged diagnosis of personality disorder, but the documents obtained through FOIA reveal that hundreds of those separations were in violation of a DoD rule to protect against wrongful PD discharge and thus were illegal. The military has refused to correct the wrongful discharges, and because a personality disorder is considered a pre-existing condition, veterans who received the PD diagnosis are ineligible for certain benefits.

“Everyone agrees that illegal personality disorder discharges occurred.” said Robert Cuthbert Jr., a Veterans Clinic student and U.S. Army veteran. “Some of these veterans may suffer from undiagnosed Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or Traumatic Brain Injury. The Department of Defense must act justly, responsibly and promptly to help them heal.”

Among other things, the report calls for a review of all personality disorder discharges executed since 2001 so that illegal discharges can be identified and corrected on the record and appropriate benefits can be restored to service members.

Read the Veterans Clinic’s press release about the report here.

Read the report here.

The clinic students and faculty representing the Vietnam Veterans of America in the litigation and who prepared the report are Melissa Ader ’12; Robert Cuthbert Jr., Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; Kendall Hoechst ’14; Eliza H. Simon ’13; Zachary Strassburger ’12; and Professor Michael Wishnie ’93, director of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic.

Read the New York Times story, "Branding a Soldier With ‘Personality Disorder.’"

Read the CNN.com story, "Rape victims say military labels them 'crazy.'"