Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Disposable Heroes: Veterans with traumatic brain injuries are being stripped of benefits, thrown out on the street by the Obama Administration

Written By: Bob - May• 21•13


The realities of modern 4th generation warfare sees heavily armed and armored American soldiers with generally excellent logistical and medical support (compared to previous wars) in contact with often stateless and uniformless enemy forces, who have adapted their tactics away from small arms to focus more on IED ambushes.

That of course is a gross simplification, but the general flow of arms development is better armor and IED detection systems on our side, and bigger explosive devices on their side that are often resorting back to lower-tech command or pressure-detonated devices since our technological advantages can often defeat devices using radio triggers (which includes cell phones).

The good news: more American troops are surviving bomb blasts that would have seen them and their vehicles almost vaporized and the troops inside killed outright just 10 years ago.

The bad news: troops that would have been occupying a grave ten years ago often survive, but suffer life-changing traumatic brain injuries that alter their personalities, and the military is  now abusing so many veterans with these sorts of injuries.


Incredibly, since the government doesn’t want to deal with these head injuries, they’re using the personality disorders that are a direct result of their injuries as an excuse to throw veterans out of the military with other-than-honorable discharges, so that they don’t have to take care of the wounded:

Alvaro joined the Army at age 18 in 2008. In Afghanistan in 2009, he was hit by multiple bomb blasts, including one that threw him across a road like a lawn dart. Sophisticated armor helped him escape with just bruises, but the blasts battered his brain. Ever since, he has been hit with heart spasms and seizures.

Alvaro is in many ways the typical modern disabled veteran. He survived combat with barely a scratch but later was diagnosed with what have become the most common wounds of a decade of war — traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, which together likely affect more than half a million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said.

What happened when he came home is increasingly typical, too. At Fort Carson, the damaged soldier racked up punishments for being late to formation, missing appointments, getting in an argument and not showing up for work. These behaviors can be symptoms of TBI and PTSD, and Army doctors recommended Alvaro go to a special battalion for wounded warriors. Instead, his battalion put him in jail, then threw him out of the Army with an other-than honorable discharge that stripped him of veterans benefits. He was sent packing without even the medicine to stop his convulsions.

“It was like my best friend betrayed me,” Alvaro said at the hospital, his speech as slow as cold oil. “I had given the Army everything, and they took everything away.”

After the longest period of war in American history, more soldiers are being discharged for misconduct than at any time in recent history, and soldiers with the most combat exposure are the hardest hit. A Gazette investigation based on data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act shows the annual number of misconduct discharges is up more than 25 percent Army-wide since 2009, mirroring the rise in wounded. At the eight Army posts that house most of the service’s combat units, including Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, misconduct discharges have surged 67 percent. All told, more than 76,000 soldiers have been kicked out of the Army since 2006. They end up in cities large and small across the country, in hospitals and homeless shelters, abandoned trailers and ratty apartments, working in gas fields and at the McDonald’s counter. The Army does not track how many, like Alvaro, were kicked out with combat wounds.

It doesn’t take serious misconduct to be discharged and lose a lifetime of benefits. The Gazette found troops cut loose for small offenses that the Army acknowledges can be symptoms of TBI and PTSD. Some soldiers missed formation a handful of times or smoked marijuana once. Some were discharged for showing up late or missing appointments. Some tested positive once for drugs, then were deployed to combat zones because the Army needed the troops, only to be discharged for the drug offense when they returned.

One two-tour infantry soldier was targeted for discharge after missing three doctor appointments because he had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital for being suicidal.

They are using men and women up, and throwing them out onto the street after they chose to sacrifice their all in defense of this nation. This is in my mind every bit as offensive (if not more so) than the Pigford reparations scam, the IRS’s intimidation tactics, the DOJ’s various assaults on the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments, the supplying of arms to narco-terrorists in Mexico and al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists in Libya and Syria, the betrayal of diplomats and operators in Benghazi, and the President’s constant whine that he doesn’t know what his government is doing on his behalf.

Heads should roll among our leadership, starting with Chuck Hagel (Secretary of Defense) and Eric K. Shinseki (Secretary of Veterans Affairs). If not a Bonus Army-type march on the Capitol seems warranted… and hopefully with less-shameful results.

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  1. Joel C says:

    I did not know this. Now, I am absolutely appalled.

    Words… fail.



  2. Critch says:

    I’m to the point with this administration that I want to to revert to my old AMMO days in the Air Force and call someone a son-of-a-bitch and few other things. How the hell did these people get into power,,easy, the Dems voted for fricking Santa Claus and Beelzebub..I work with veterans and I see this every day,,,one little mistake and out they go,,,but I tell ya, you let some officer screw up and it’s under the rug…especially flag officers and above…I saw this crap after Vietnam and I saw this crap after the Cold War and Desert Storm, all Democratic administations,,they talk big, but they hate veterans, they hate the poor and they hate America,,,the sonofabitches..

    • J says:

      “…you let some officer screw up and it’s under the rug…”
      That’s bullcrap Critch. Plenty of officers get kicked out for screwing up after getting their brains scrambled by an IED. I personally know of several. This is a problem that has nothing to do with rank. And, really, how many flag grade officers do you think have TBIs? If it’s more than zero I’d be shocked.

      • Critch says:

        I’m not trying to start a fight but right off hand I know of two O-6s who filed for bankruptcy, one under indictment for tax fraud, both finished their careers, retirements the whole bit…but enlisted folks, esp. the lower ranking ones would get thrown out or refused reenlistment for the same things…I saw officer and senior enlisted aircrew continue with their jobs even with multiple incidents of alcohol abuse, not so for most enlisted. I don’t know how widespread it is, but I saw a lot in 25 years of service…my favorite was a major who used his military Diner’s club card to the tune of $2500 in a casino and nothing happened….my supervisor used her’s one day early to fill up her gas tank to come to the base and she got a letter of counseling..I do believe their are some discrepancies in how people are treated.

      • Critch says:

        I really didn’t mean to use flag officer, I was thinking higher ranking officer, I’m not sure how that came out.

  3. Right_2_Bear says:

    I’m no apologist for Obama, but hasn’t the military always been this way? (e.g. sending servicemen into battle with know defective weaponry, denying Agent Orange benefits, etc.)

    I think it comes down to a simple fact that the military is like any other government bureaucracy, and is woefully inadequate and incapable of taking care of the individual. This should not be an excuse for this now or in the past, but when does it ever get fixed?

    As a side note, basically what we are seeing here on a small scale is what national socialized medicine would be like, with one’s healthcare decisions being made by a bean-counter someplace in D.C. – which is very frightening.

  4. Randy says:

    Please read this story in the Colorado Springs Gazette. These are the extreme cases, but there are hundreds and maybe 1000s more. My sone wasn’t discharged, but he got out of the military as soon as he was able.

    This addresses the active duty soldiers. The National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers are deprived of medical treatment, retirement points and outher benefits they are due. These are mostly lower rank soldiers since they do not know how the system is supposed to work. They tried to mess with me, but I basically let them know I knew my rights and I was at the end of my career with nothing to lose if I went to the IG or to Congress.

    Keep pushing this issue Bob!

  5. redleg says:

    Not saying it hasn’t happened but some of these kids come back from a tour of honorable service and can’t hack going back– so they turn to misconduct. As as officer with 26 years in– I do not necessarily kick them out with a less than honorable discharge– but some of them are pure poison to a unit– kicked out of the WTU for indiscipline and ruining new troops in the barracks– doing and dealing drugs is the most common offence. You can’t abide that and try training a unit to go back to war. The units have a story to tell as well– these kids who are doing the evil usually have never deployed and if they did, never left the FOB. Most were never wounded. I can tell a faker and a shammer at 500 meters now so before you take their stories at face value get their DD214 and verify it. It is just like the statistics that 25% of the homeless are vets– it is simply not true once you start looking at who can prove it– I will agree that 25% of the homeless claim they are vets for sympathy and empathy but most can’t pass the smell test. These fakers are defining my generation of vets as PTSD wasted shells and it simply is not so. I know 11 tour SF vets with 14 years who do have mTBI and they are pretty useful folks.

  6. RuralGal says:


  7. Firehand says:

    Son has mentioned that the Army, for about a year, has been using almost anything as an excuse to muster someone out; stuff that, earlier, would get you in trouble is now reason for discharge. Makes cutting the budget easier to get rid of troops.

  8. Matt Strictland says:

    This kind of disgusting treatment is par for the course since well there were soldiers. Kipling’s Tommy aludes to it a bit and itsfarolder.

    Common soldiers have always been treated as expendable by the elite especially when they get expensive

    In fact I’d suggest the relativly decent treament of soldiers after WW2 was a historical anamoly.

    As far as the bonus march, it was a clear case of “powers that be are afraid but not afraid enough” After the powers got more afraid, probably after someone sent them a message or two, stuff got fixed.

    However the US these days has pretty much no commity and if the military decided to make the government do the right thing, it would probably end up about as well as it lately did for the Egyptian’s, i.e not very.