Monday, March 26, 2007

Catch 5-13

Joshua Kors has a cover article in the Nation on Spc. Jon Town, an unbelievable story first recounted by Kors some months ago as noted by this site and others.

Town was the victim of a direct hit rocket attack in Ramadi, Iraq. Once in the VA hospital, it sounds like he was lied to and tricked into signing away his rights to benefits and continued medical care, as well as a significant chunk of his bonus money. By the end, Town actually owed the Army close to $4,000 under an obscure provision known as Regulation 635-200, Chapter 5-13 in the separation manual, "Separation Because of Personality Disorder."

Here's a key graff:
But instead of sending Town to a medical board and discharging him because of his injuries, doctors at Fort Carson, Colorado, did something strange: They claimed Town's wounds were actually caused by a "personality disorder." Town was then booted from the Army and told that under a personality disorder discharge, he would never receive disability or medical benefits.

Town is not alone. A six-month investigation has uncovered multiple cases in which soldiers wounded in Iraq are suspiciously diagnosed as having a personality disorder, then prevented from collecting benefits. The conditions of their discharge have infuriated many in the military community, including the injured soldiers and their families, veterans' rights groups, even military officials required to process these dismissals.

They say the military is purposely misdiagnosing soldiers like Town and that it's doing so for one reason: to cheat them out of a lifetime of disability and medical benefits, thereby saving billions in expenses.

. . .

One military official says doctors at his base are doing more than withholding this information from wounded soldiers; they're actually telling them the opposite: that if they go along with a 5-13, they'll get to keep their bonus and receive disability and medical benefits. The official, who demanded anonymity, handles discharge papers at a prominent Army facility. He says the soldiers he works with know they don't have a personality disorder. "But the doctors are telling them, this will get you out quicker, and the VA will take care of you. To stay out of Iraq, a soldier will take that in a heartbeat. What they don't realize is, those things are lies. The soldiers, they don't read the fine print," he says. "They don't know to ask for a med board. They're taking the word of the doctors. Then they sit down with me and find out what a 5-13 really means--they're shocked."


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