On March 23, 2012 Vietnam Veterans of America, VVA, and Yale University released a study entitled “Casting Troops Aside: The United States Military’s Illegal Personality Disorder Problem.” The study reveals a ten year history of false discharges under personality disorder or adjustment disorder. The “problem” with this type of discharge is that even though the veteran may be released with an honorable or under honorable discharge entitling the veteran to service connected benefits; it allows the Veterans Benefits Administration to deny the veteran service connected benefits for the personality disorder as a pre-existing condition.
The VVA and Yale University Veterans Legal Services Clinic reported that between the years 2001 and 2010 the Department of Defense separated more than 31,000 service members with a diagnosis of personality disorder. The numbers dropped significantly after congressional hearings and a 2008 investigation conducted by the Governmental Accountable Office revealed the Department of Defense was illegally discharging soldiers with a possible misdiagnosis of personality disorders.
By law these soldiers were supposed to receive formal counseling and a chance to improve their condition. A result of this counseling would then reveal a formal diagnosis, if that diagnosis was therefore personality disorder the mental health professional would then determine if the personality disorder was severe enough to interfere with the soldiers duties. A personality disorder is considered to be a pre-existing condition, that is the soldier had this condition at the time they joined the service and the personality disorder is not a result of their time in the service. However, many of these veterans go on to receive a post service diagnosis of PTSD or traumatic brain injury, and they must fight the VA for the benefits they are entitled to for years or even decades as a result of the misdiagnosis in service.
It appears as those these types of discharges are decreasing in numbers. In 2010 a total of only 564 soldiers were released due to personality disorder, in 2007 this number was 4,054, however the number of discharges for adjustment disorders are rising. The most complete records came from the Air Force that revealed an increase in the discharges for adjustment disorder from 102 in 2007 to 668 in 2010, and a decrease in personality disorder discharges from 1249 in 2007 to 77 in 2010. It appears as though the Department of Defense found a new way to deny our veterans the benefits they deserve before they are even released from the service.
If a veteran has been denied service connection for personality disorder or adjustment disorder please seek the assistance of an accredited veterans attorney to ensure that your claim is being handled and developed properly.
Updated June 2012.