Tester Demands Justice for Veterans Living with PTSD

Senator Urges the VA to Restore Health Care Benefits for Veterans Living with Mental Illness

(Big Sandy, Mont.)-Senator Jon Tester is demanding the VA restore health care and benefits for thousands of veterans who received other-than-honorable discharges from the Armed Services and continue to live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses.

In a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, Tester expressed concern that the VA’s overly broad interpretation of misconduct has denied benefits to many service members with PTSD. And he urged Secretary McDonald to update the VA’s policies to ensure veterans have the appropriate access to health care services and benefits after leaving the Armed Services.

“The folks who served this nation deserve respect and they must be able to access the health care they earned,” Tester said. “There are countless veterans in Montana and across the country who are being denied basic health care at the VA because they were never properly diagnosed with PTSD. It is time to take action and ensure that every veteran is receiving the health care treatment they need.”

Tester specifically pushed Secretary McDonald to disclose new criteria to evaluate service members who are discharged from the Armed Services due to “willful and persistent misconduct.”

A 2016 report estimates that over 125,000 post-9/11 veterans have received an other-than-honorable discharge, many due to psychological difficulties.

Veterans with other-than-honorable discharges face additional barriers to medical care at the VA, and do not receive the full level of mental health care that they need.

According to Swords to Plowshares, a veteran advocacy organization, veterans who received other-than-honorable discharges are more likely to be homeless, incarcerated, and twice as likely to commit suicide as veterans with honorable discharges.

Tester’s letter to Secretary McDonald is available HERE.