WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Steve Daines today announced he has helped introduce two measures to ensure due process for veterans who suffer from mental health illnesses who may have been erroneously given an administrative discharge, rather than an honorable discharge.
Daines has joined Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) to introduce S. 1567 which ensures active duty members who suffer from invisible wounds, like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) aren’t incorrectly administratively discharged. An administrative discharge is often given for minor misconducts, which can be attributed to behaviors seen in those suffering from PTSD or TBI.
Daines’ bill creates 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. Individuals who are given an administrative discharge make them ineligible for certain benefits, including G.I. benefits and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans.
Daines has also helped introduce an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that requires a report on the number of veterans who petition for an upgrade in discharge status as well as the number of petitions granted to these veterans. This report will ensure that both Congress and the Department of Defense will be fully informed about the scope of the number of improper discharges.
“Anything less than a full, honorable discharge can jeopardize Montana veterans’ access to the services they need and deserve,” Daines stated. “It’s deeply concerning that some of our service members are being erroneously discharged as a side effect of challenges related to their mental health. This legislation helps ensure these veterans receive the due process they deserve.”
Daines measures are widely supported by Montana veterans, including the Montana American Legion.
“On behalf of the members of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #788 we would consider it an honor to support legislation that ensures due process for veterans who have been erroneously discharged and we thank Senator Daines for his efforts,” stated Chuck Renevier, President, VVA Chapter #788.
“It is very important that we take care of our veterans and our military personnel and Senator Daines’ measures work to do just that,” stated Len Albright, former American Legion Post 14 Commander. “Thank you Senator Daines for working to protect our men and women in the military.”
The full text of the legislation is available here and the amendment is available here.