08.03.15

Peters Introduces Bill Ensuring Fairness for Veterans Erroneously Discharged from Military

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today announced that he has introduced a bipartisan bill with Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) that would help veterans who may have been erroneously given an administrative discharge from the military, rather than an honorable discharge, due to behavior resulting from mental traumas such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Peters, who is a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, previously introduced the Fairness for Veterans Act as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act in June.

“Servicemembers suffering from mental health trauma should not lose access to benefits that they’ve earned through their service, and they should receive fair due process when petitioning for an upgrade of their discharge status” said Senator Peters. “I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that supports the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much in defense of our nation.”

An administrative discharge is often given for minor misconduct, including being late to formation and missing appointments, behavior often seen in those suffering from PTSD, TBI, and other mental traumas. An administrative discharge means servicemembers are ineligible for certain benefits, including G.I. benefits and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans. Senator Peters’ bill will create a presumption in favor of the veteran when petitioning the Secretary of Defense for an upgrade in discharge status based on medical evidence certified by the VA.

“Veterans who received less than honorable discharges while suffering from undiagnosed PTSD or TBI must be granted the opportunity to have their discharges reviewed in a way that gives full consideration to their mental health wounds as mitigating factors. The VFW fully supports this legislation, and we thank Senator Peters for its introduction,” said Raymond Kelley, VFW National Legislative Director.

"DAV is pleased to offer our support for the intent of this legislation that would provide wounded, ill and injured former service members with less than honorable discharges a more humane process toward discharge reviews, affording them a better opportunity to correct any administrative determinations in instances in which PTSD and TBI may have generated behavioral abnormality,” said Disabled American Veterans (DAV) National Commander Ron Hope.

As a former Lt. Commander in the Navy Reserve, Senator Peters has been a strong voice in Congress for Michigan’s veterans and servicemembers. Earlier this year, Peters introduced legislation with Republican Senator Joni Ernst (IA) that would extend for five years a tax credit for small businesses that provide differential pay to military reservists and National Guard members called to serve on active duty. Peters also cosponsored the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, bipartisan legislation signed into the law by the President to improve mental health care and suicide prevention programs for veterans.

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