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BIAA Applauds TBI Provision Included in Final National Defense Authorization Act

09-Dec-2016 The Brain Injury Association of America thanks U.S. Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) for their leadership in introducing a bipartisan provision to help veterans who may have been erroneously given a less than honorable discharge from the military due to negative behavior resulting from mental traumas such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The Fairness for Veterans amendment was included in the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report, which passed the United States Senate yesterday, Dec. 8, and the House of Representatives last week with widespread bipartisan support. This bill now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) introduced similar legislation and led the effort to pass this provision in the House of Representatives.

A less than honorable discharge, or bad paper discharge, is often given for instances of minor misconduct such as being late to formation and missing appointments – behavior that can be seen in those suffering from PTSD, TBI, and other trauma-related conditions. A less than honorable discharge renders service members ineligible for certain benefits, including Post-9/11 G.I. Bill educational benefits and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans.

The provision included in the final NDAA conference report codifies the principles of a 2014 memorandum authored by former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to give liberal consideration to petitions for changes in discharge status to honorable if the service member has been diagnosed with PTSD, TBI, or related conditions in connection with their military service. The amendment extends the policy to PTSD or TBI that is related to military sexual trauma.

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