Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) January 26, 2017 – Many veterans who were diagnosed with mental problems or traumatic brain injury have received less-than-honorable discharges. But such a discharge can result in the denial of veterans’ benefits, thereby causing these veterans to become homeless, imprisoned, develop substance abuse or commit suicide.
In an effort to assist these veterans, the Vietnam Veterans Association of America wrote President Obama asking him to pardon all post-9/11 veterans who received less-than-honorable discharges without the due process of a court-martial. They are making the same request of President-elect Donald Trump.
Prominent Tampa, Florida veterans lawyer David Magann says, “Veterans who have received less-than-honorable discharges because they suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental illnesses are entitled to receive an honorable discharge.” “They should not lose their Veterans Affairs health benefits or GI bill education benefits.”
As reported in Shelbyville Daily Union, one such victim of this policy is Kristofer Goldsmith, who enlisted in the army a short time after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In a little over two years, he was promoted to sergeant, and spent a full year in Baghdad. However, upon his return home, he had to drink in order to sleep, and he spent time in isolation so he would not hurt his family and friends in the event he had an abrupt fit of anger. Then, when he attempted to commit suicide, the Army gave him a less-than-honorable discharge for severe misconduct. He was not found guilty by a court marshal.
For the last ten years, he has tried to appeal his discharge. He has attempted to obtain treatment for his PTSD and his depression. Despite his invitation to speak at the White House about mental health programs, and his enrollment in classes at Columbia University, the Army has denied his request for an honorable discharge.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 20 percent of veterans who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan could be suffering from PTSD. In 2015, NPR disclosed that between 2009 and 2015, the Army separated over 22,000 combat soldiers because of misconduct after they were diagnosed with mental health problems or traumatic brain injury. In 2016, The New York Times revealed that after 9/11, 13 percent of veterans received less-than-honorable discharges.
As stated in a recent memorandum to President Obama by the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School, there has been prior use of this presidential power. On his final day in office, President Gerald R. Ford delivered a mass pardon, in which he gave clemency discharges to Vietnam veterans who had violated the Military Selective Service Act or the Uniform Code of Military Justice between August 1964 and March 1973.
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter gave full pardons to those Americans who had rejected the draft for the Vietnam War, thereby removing the felony offense associated with resistance to the draft. The veterans of today are deserving of the same respect and concern.
Learn more at http://www.tampaveteranslawyer.com/
David W. Magann, P.A.
156 W. Robertson St.
Brandon, FL 33511
Call: (813) 657-9175
4012 Gunn Highway #165
Tampa, Florida 33618
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