Peters Joined Colleagues in Calling for Investigation after Allegations that More Than 22,000 Soldiers Diagnosed with Mental Health Disorders were Dismissed for Misconduct
WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), a former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, today applauded the U.S. Army’s announcement that they will conduct a thorough, multidisciplinary investigation into allegations that the Army has, since 2009, wrongfully dismissed more than 22,000 soldiers for misconduct after they returned from deployment and were diagnosed with mental health disorders. The Army’s announcement comes after Peters joined 11 of his Senate colleagues in requesting the investigation. In a letter to Peters, Acting Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning noted that the Assistant Secretary of the Army, The Inspector General of the Army, The Auditor General of the Army, and other senior Army leaders would conduct the investigation and report their findings.
“For generations our servicemembers have answered the call of duty and defended our country, and I am very concerned that the Army may have erroneously discharged thousands of soldiers suffering from the invisible wounds of war,” said Senator Peters. “I am pleased that there will be a full-scale investigation into potentially incorrect dismissals, and I look forward to reviewing the U.S. Army’s findings upon completion of its investigation.”
In November, Peters and his colleagues wrote a letter to Acting Secretary Fanning and Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army General Mark A. Milley, expressing serious concern that the dismissed soldiers will not receive retirement and post-service employment eligibility benefits. The Senators additionally expressed concern that it may have been easier to dismiss servicemembers for minor misconduct possibly linked to the traumas of war, rather than evaluate them for conditions that may have warranted a different discharge.
Senator Peters, a member of the Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus, has been a strong voice for Michigan’s veterans and servicemembers. Earlier this year, Peters introduced bipartisan legislation to help former servicemembers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injuries (TBI) who received a less-than-honorable discharge, rather than an honorable discharge. Peters’ bill would create a presumption in favor of the former servicemember when petitioning the Secretary of Defense for an upgrade in discharge status based on medical evidence certified by the VA or a private physician.