"Bad Paper" Does Not Define the Veteran

November 21, 2013

Philip Carter of the Center for a New American Security highlighted ‘bad paper’ in a New York Times op-ed describing the profound injustice of discharges “under conditions other than honorable.” He points out that the vast majority of these discharges are not handed down for serious or criminal behavior but for minor infractions of military rules or patterns of behavior linked to the stresses of service, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, depression and substance abuse. These are the veterans who are most vulnerable and yet their discharge status bars them from access to VA health care and benefits, and the GI Bill.
Amy Fairweather, Policy Director

NY Times: The Vets We Reject and Ignore.

For more information regarding our legal services, visit http://www.swords-to-plowshares.org/legal-services/. The demand is very high for our services and pro bono representation can help our veterans navigate the VA application and appeals process. To apply for pro bono, fill out the application on our Pro Bono Program page.

If you are a lawyer, see the Swords’ Practising Law Institute free CLE on representing veterans in discharge review matters. The latest PLI training focuses on advocating for veterans and the basics of the VA: https://www.pli.edu/Content/Seminar/Advocating_for_Veterans_The_Basics_on_VA/_/N-4kZ1z0ztvl (updated to latest training).

If you are a veteran, see our Self Help Guides ranging from discharge upgrades to dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs and more. Read more about the process of upgrading the military discharge here: Upgrading Your Discharge AND Changing the Reason for Your Discharge

Our veterans suffer through issues that accompany military service and the necessary benefits that address those issues are often denied by “bad paper.” The issues often manifest while in the military as seen with the psychological trauma of repeated tours of duty in combat zones. The military, reacting to the symptoms of PTSD or TBI, may discharge a service member unfairly. This undermines the care necessary to provide ongoing support and treatment for a serious malady that sometimes results in mental breakdowns, substance abuse (self-medication), or suicide. Bad paper can disqualify veterans when they’ve suffered in service and that’s simply unacceptable.