Resources & References
Resources & References: The Uniformed Services Justice & Advocacy Group (USJAG) is unique on the national military-veterans advocacy landscape in that it provides a “front” as opposed to a “back” end response to the problem of separations from military service under less than Honorable conditions. The organization intervenes between the military and the soldier to prevent improper separation, where appropriate. While our statistical understanding and points of reference may differ, one thing is abundantly clear, hundreds of thousands of veterans received these discharges across all eras and branches of service. Separations under General, Other-than Honorable (OTH), Undesirable (UD), Bad Conduct (BCD) and Dishonorable Conditions serve as a perpetual scarlet letter in the realms of employment, access to housing and education benefits and services, access to disability compensation and healthcare.
Until quite recently, the chances of remedial action in the form of discharge upgrades were abysmal at best. What follows are resources and references on this far-reaching social problem which impacts not only the soldiers and veterans directly effected, but also their families, communities and a wide range of other social sectors and institutions. The references and resources which follow are listed chronologically, from earliest to latest, and they are drawn from a variety of sources. The listing is not intended to be exhaustive, in nature, but merely to impart some level of understanding of the enormity and the duration of the problem.
Military Administrative Discharges, the Pendulum Swings, Duke Journal of Law, 1966
The type of discharge which a man receives upon being separated from the Armed Services can have a profound affect upon his civilian life. Not unexpectedly, therefore, much concern has been recently expressed concerning the safeguards and procedures available to the serviceman to contest an unfavorable discharge, both before and after the termination of his military service. Read More
Army Regulation 27-10, Legal Services-Military Justice, Revision October 3, 2011
Major revisions to Army Regulation 27-10 governing process and representation in the courts martial and administrative proceedings…Read More
Needs Assessment: Veterans in the Western States, Center for a New American Security (CNAS), Policy Brief, December, 2013
“Veterans in the 12 western states account for nearly one-third of all veterans nationwide, including a mix of large, dense veterans communities in urban areas and veterans dispersed across vast rural and mountainous areas. The overwhelming majority of veterans in the western United States do well after they leave the military, with higher than average employment and income and better results for other socioeconomic indicators than their non-veteran peers. However, some veterans struggle to adjust to civilian life or suffer later in life with issues relating to their service.” Read More
In Need of Correction: How the Army Board for Correction of Military Records Is Failing Veterans with PTSD by Rebecca Izzo, March 2014
“After completing two honorable tours of duty, fighting in four separate campaigns in Vietnam, and earning an Air Medal with Valor Device for heroism, John Doe1 was given an Undesirable Discharge after he began threatening and striking other soldiers in 1973.2 He was later diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As a result of his Undesirable Discharge, he can be denied government employment and cut off from benefits, such as disability compensation, health benefits, education benefits, a military burial, and benefits for surviving family members.3 Veterans like Mr. Doe have struggled to cope not only with their war wounds but also with the shame of a bad discharge. As one journalist observed, “‘Bad paper’ vets will not be honored on Veterans Day . . . . [They] have been largely forgotten and ignored by the military and veterans organizations”. Read More
A Troubled Homecoming: Understanding and Treating Veterans Experiencing Homelessness, National Healthcare for the Homeless Council, Fall 2014
“According to the January 2014 Point-in-Time count, there are 49,933 homeless veterans in the United States on any given night. For the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), the number marks a decline of 33% (or 24,837 people) from the 2010 count, and an advance toward the organizations’ goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015.” Read More
Veterans’ Benefits: The Impact of Military Discharges on Basic Eligibility, Congressional Research Services, March 6, 2015
“The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a broad range of benefits to veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces and to certain members of their families; however, a claimant must meet the basic eligibility criteria. A benefit claimant must prove that he or she meets the statutory definition of a “veteran,” which includes (1) service in the active military (i.e., Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard) or commissioned officers of the Public Health Service (PHS), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); (2) minimum length of service requirements; and (3) discharge or separation from military service under conditions “other than dishonorable.”” Read More
Unfinished Business: Correcting “Bad Paper” for veterans with PTSD: The Defense Department’s Adjudication of Discharge Upgrades One Year Since Its September 2014 PTSD Directive, Prepared for the Vietnam Veterans of America and the National Veterans Council on Legal Redress by Yale Law’s Veteran’s Clinic, September, 2015.
“Veterans who receive less than fully honorable discharges can apply to administrative boards established by Congress for a review of their discharge status. These boards may upgrade a discharge status that is erroneous or unjust. A former service member’s discharge status is hugely consequential, as those with Other Than Honorable or Bad Conduct Discharges (also known collectively as “bad paper”) are generally ineligible for education, housing, employment, disability, and burial benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and in many cases even healthcare. Bad paper can also make it difficult for veterans to secure private employment and subject them to lingering stigma and shame.” Read More
Veterans and Homelessness, Congressional Research Service, November 6, 2015, RL34024
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan brought renewed attention to the needs of veterans, including the needs of homeless veterans. Researchers have found both male and female veterans to be over-represented in the homeless population, and, as the number of veterans increased due to these conflicts, there was concern that the number of homeless veterans could rise commensurately. The 2007-2009 recession and the subsequent slow economic recovery also raised concerns that homelessness could increase among all groups, including veterans. Read More
Underserved: How the VA Wrongfully Excludes Veterans with Bad Paper. Swords to Plowshares, in conjunction with National Veterans Legal Services Program and the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, April 2016
“Not all who have served are “veterans” in the eyes of the Department of Veterans Affairs. If the veteran has less than a General discharge, the VA creates obstacles to getting health care, benefits, homeless resources and other services. Most of these veterans are simply turned away. Congress never meant for eligibility to be so exclusive, it intended that only veterans who served dishonorably be denied access. The VA’s own discretionary policies unnecessarily deny hundreds of thousands veterans benefits, who are often those most in need of the VA’s support.” Read More
Claims for VA Benefits and Character of Discharge
“Basic eligibility for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits depends upon the type of military service performed, the duration of the service, and the character of discharge or separation. VA looks at the “character of discharge” to determine whether a person meets the basic eligibility requirements for receipt of VA benefits under title 38 of the United States Code. Any discharge under honorable conditions satisfies the character of discharge requirement for basic eligibility for VA benefits.” Read More
“Our Mission: Veterans fought for our freedom, now it’s our turn to fight for theirs. We enable the creation of a nationwide network of Veterans Treatment Courts that is transforming the way veterans are handled in the criminal justice system. In doing so we will keep veterans out of jail and prison; saving their lives, their families, and their futures, while saving tax dollars for the American public. Justice For Vets is a professional services division of the National Association of Drug Court professionals, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Alexandria, VA. Justice for Vets believes that no veteran or military service member should suffer from gaps in service, or the judicial system when they return to their communities.”