76,000 soldiers ‘chaptered out’ of veterans’ benefits since 2006

Jerral Jensen. combat veteran

76,000 soldiers ‘chaptered out’ of veterans’ benefits since 2006

by Shiela McVicar

Nov. 11, 2013

Jerrald Jensen Joined the Army at 34 Years of Age

Jerrald Jensen joined the Army when he was 34 – much older than the average recruit. He was called to duty, his wife says, by the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

In 2006, he deployed to Iraq, where he was the driver for a commander in his unit. By all accounts, he was an exemplary soldier.

In the fall of 2007, his patrol was attacked, and an explosive blew off part of his face and pierced his body with shrapnel. Jensen still managed to drive away from the attack, saving his commander, before being shot in the arm and the back. That incident resulted in a Purple Heart.

Severely Wounded in Iraq, he Recovered and Deployed Again to Afghanistan

Doctors had to rebuild his jaw with titanium. After two years and 16 surgeries, Jensen volunteered for a second combat tour, this time in Afghanistan. He was assigned to Bari Alai, a remote U.S. outpost that faced nearly daily attacks from the Taliban. Six months into his tour, he fell while running to a gun post and again broke his jaw.

Doctors did their best to patch him up, but half of Jensen’s face was permanently numb, and he lost his remaining teeth. He felt he’d had enough. Soon, he was transferred to the Warrior Transition Unit, a special unit in Fort Carson, Colo., set up to help wounded active-duty soldiers heal and transition into civilian life.

Once there, Jensen told America Tonight that WTU commanders seemed bent on getting rid of him. He said they wrote him up for minor infractions, like showing up late to a medical appointment, or making an incomplete stop at a stop sign.

Then, on a routine urine test, Jensen came up positive for amphetamines. He had been prescribed the decongestant pseudoephedrine and narcotics for his injuries, which can cause a false positive, so he asked to be re-tested. Instead, WTU commanders told him they were kicking him out of the Army for what they called a pattern of misconduct.

The Army Wanted to Discharge Him Without Benefits

Not only did the Army want to discharge him without benefits like unemployment or access to GI Bill money, said Jensen, they also wanted to give him a discharge that was other than “honorable.” That would likely keep him from getting any benefits for the rest of his life.

“They looked at me and told me that I didn’t deserve to wear the uniform now, nor did I ever deserve to wear it,” Jensen told America Tonight. “And that I was a disgrace and I should be ashamed of myself for letting my family down and my wife, and everyone else.”

Jerrald Jensen joined the Army when he was 34 – much older than the average recruit. He was called to duty, his wife says, by the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

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Related Reading:

Critics: Fort Carson policy targeted troubled, wounded soldiers

Fighting the “After War”: The Boston Globe

New Records Show Injured Soldiers Describe Mistreatment Nationwide From Commanders at Army Warrior Transition Units (WTUs)

 

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