The things they still carry

Veterans are caught in a cruel Catch-22: they cannot obtain treatment for their PTSD because of consequences of their PTSD.

Op-Ed (North Carolina)

Brandon Heffinger
News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)
November 10, 2017

Tags: Military Discharges, Veterans

Organizations mentioned/involved: Veterans Legal Clinic at Wake Forest University School of Law


Today, more than 125,000 post-9/11 veterans cannot access basic VA services. That is equivalent to the size of the initial U.S. invasion force in Iraq. For most of these veterans, a less-than-honorable discharge is the roadblock to care. To make matters worse, the VA reports that PTSD is a significant risk factor for homelessness and suicide.

When military service members leave active service, they receive a discharge. A large percentage of the service members who receive a less-than-honorable discharge are no longer “veterans” under the law, which prevents them from receiving VA health care and disability benefits. This means that most veterans with PTSD who receive a less-than-honorable discharge cannot access mental health care at the VA.