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LITTLE-KNOWN LOOPHOLE FOR BAD DISCHARGES

A lot of bad information about VA benefits exists.  So says the Swords to Plowshares website.   

We agree.

Those benefits are often very important – the include healthcare, education, housing, vocational rehabilitation, and even burial.

There is a little-known loophole – relief for GIs separated with “bad paper.” Cases typically involve veterans having more than one period of active military service.

If so:

  • A “bad” discharge does not necessarily bar an individual from receiving benefits.
  • The loophole – a separate period of service terminated under honorable conditions.

This happened to one of our clients recently.  She enlisted in the Air Force, served honorably, then completed her initial enlistment with an honorable discharge.  During her second enlistment, there were two uses of marijuana. This led to a discharge in lieu of court-martial and an undesirable-type discharge.

Our client was not necessarily out of luck.  As noted, VA benefits are possible based on the first tour and honorable discharge; this holds true even if the second enlistment‘s bad paper would normally deny benefits.

To say it another way: Suppose the claimant has two or more periods of service.  , He/she has “good paper” for the first period of service and “bad paper” for the second.  The individual may be eligible for compensation and health care for any disabilities that occurred or were aggravated during the “good” period of service.  

The situation can be complicated.    If applicants were injured during the “bad” period of service, they are out of luck unless the VA issues a good character of service determination.  An easy-read VA website clarifies that “you earned your benefits during the period in which you served honorably.”   

Based on this, the VA makes a case-by-case determination in “bad paper” cases, reviewing:

  • The entire military record.
  • Mitigating/extenuating circumstances.
  • Supporting evidence provided by third-parties
  • Length of service.
  • Performance.
  • The nature of the infraction.
  • Character of the service prior to the offense[s]

Overall, the VA typically denies Federal benefits to those sentenced by a general court-martial, deserters, or those guilty of a lengthy AWOL.

PTSD?    The VA does not close the door completely.  According to their website, the VA will take into consideration the impact of disabilities on the claimant’s misconduct in making a determination. The reader-friendly summary appears at the VA website.  Go to

Veterans Benefits Administration

PTSD Triggered by a Dead Body, Other Catastrophes

One of the mainstays of popular “haunted houses” is make-believe dead bodies.  Haunted houses use such fake cadavers to scare patrons, relying on strong reactions when humans confront corpses. 

The trauma can be profound after a person finds a dead body in real life.

This traumatic response is magnified if an individual discovers a human body undergoing decomposition.    

War zone experiences can trigger horrific post-traumatic stress; however, experiences in garrison can also lead to such trauma.  We recently completed a lengthy brief for an Air Force client – a medical technician whose PTSD was triggered by encountering dead bodies during his assigned duties. 

During the 1990s, the Center for Research on End of Life Care at Cornell Medical College discovered that many individuals acquired what is now known as traumatic grief.

Traumatic grief involves what are classified as intrusive symptoms. These symptoms leave a person to deeply fear that the event will recur in the future.  Disturbing symptoms include:

  • Nightmares
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Startle reactions
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Feelings of insecurity

Coming across a dead body is not the only PTSD trigger. Situations that cause PTSD can include:

  • Combat
  • Kidnapping
  • Natural disaster
  • Catastrophic accident
  • Violent sexual assault
  • Violent physical assault
  • Witnessing a person violently killed or injured

Certain risk factors render a person more apt to suffer PTSD following the discovery of human remains. These include:

  • Previous trauma
  • Preexisting mental health condition
  • Lack of post-trauma support
  • The severity of the traumatic event itself.

We have gathered useful materials on encountering dead bodies – including comments from a national mortician association recognizing such dangers for funeral home staff.

We are available to discuss this aspect of PTSD with potential clients!


WONDERFUL WINDFALL

      Recently, client Cadet CF was disenrolled from the Army
ROTC program, owing almost $175K.  He had developed a
disqualifying medical condition.  Because he no longer
meets medical qualification standards, CF is ineligible for a
commission or enlistment. A formal hearing and his case
was held several months ago, where we advocated on his
behalf. 
The good news just arrived –the entire amount of his ROTC
scholarship – $174, 440 – is being waived. Thanking us, CF
writes: Mission success!!  I just wanted to say thank you for
your hard work and guidance. I’m really grateful for your
help. Warmly.” …..

LAWYER’S CORNER.  Every once in a while, we run in to an
attorney who likes to quote Scripture against our client.  In such cases, the following ten items might be helpful…and

perhaps even a bit amusing.
   


1
. No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 23:1 RSV)


2. If two men, a man and his countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is striking him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity. (Deuteronomy 25:11-12 NASB)


3. Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the LORD your God must be put to death.  Such evil must be purged from Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:12 NLT)

4
. As you approach a town to attack it, first offer its people terms for peace. If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor. But if they refuse to make peace and prepare to fight, you must attack the town. When the LORD your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder. You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the LORD your God has given you. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT)

5.  If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.  Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT)


6. Make ready to slaughter his sons for the guilt of their fathers; Lest they rise and possess the earth, and fill the breadth of the world with tyrants. (Isaiah 14:21 NAB)

7.. Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes. Their homes will be sacked and their wives raped by the attacking hordes. For I will stir up the Medes against Babylon, and no amount of silver or gold will buy them off. The attacking armies will shoot down the young people with arrows. They will have no mercy on helpless babies and will show no compassion for the children. (Isaiah 13:15-18 NLT)

8. However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

9. When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

10. Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)


THE GOLDWATER ISSUE – “LONG-DISTANCE ANALYSIS”

The Navy – perhaps other services – are doing a disservice to individuals with PTSD.  Their “records review” tends to contradict applicants who come to military corrections boards by saying there is little or no evidence of PTSD in the veteran’s medical records.

Military Defender has prepared an extensive brief encountering this questionable claim, which is often called the “Goldwater issue.”  The brief, extensively researched, analyzes five major aspects.

Great Info From The Military Defender!

WHERE ARE THE FEMALE MARINES?  Awhile back, DOD ordered the Marine Corps to open all combat arms career fields to women.  Less than 100 have successfully entered the former male-only specialties.

AIRCRAT CARRIER VISITS VIETNAM.   The Carl Vinson recently visited the Vietnamese port of Da Nang – the first visit there by a US carrier in more than four decades, according to Navy Times. 

VETERANS SUE SEA SERVICE.  Iraq and Afghanistan Navy/Marine Corps veterans with mental health problems were unfairly given less-than-honorable discharges by the Navy, preventing them from getting VA benefits and other support. That’s the assertion of a Federal lawsuit in Connecticut.   The suit seeks class-action status for thousands of Navy and Marine Corps veterans.  They are represented by students at Yale Law School.  The law students filed a similar lawsuit against the Army last year.

AIRMAN PUNISHED FOR RACIAL RANT.   An airman who posted a profane Facebook video in which she made racially charged comments has been punished at Nellis AFB, NV.  Tech. Sgt. Geraldine Lovely posted a video of her in-uniform rant in January; she claimed that black female airmen and NCOs had “attitude problems.”

RUNNING OUT OF SPACE AT ARLINGTON CEMETERY.  Veterans groups staunchly oppose the idea of restricting eligibility for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.  However, military officials don’t see another realistic option.  The 154-year-old cemetery, originally established as an overflow site for mounting Civil War casualties, has become one of the most hallowed military sites in America.  Over 3 million visitors travel to the site annually.  More than 7,000 service members were interred at the cemetery in fiscal 2017 alone.  Expansion plans are expected to keep burials on pace into the 2040s – but not much beyond that.

PERSONAL WEAPONS ON BASE.  President Trump is the examining Federal policies restricting troops carrying private firearms on military bases. 

DIFFERENT RANKS, DIFFERENT SPANKS.   Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif has challenged the Air Force’s lack of courts-martial for general officers.  She claims the Air Force has never prosecuted a general officer in its entire history.

While Rep. Speier zeroed in on the Air Force, she chastised other services as well.  She cited two former Army generals ― Maj. Gen. Ron Lewis used his government credit card at strip clubs in Rome and Seoul, along with other infractions, and Gen. William “Kip” Ward misused thousands of taxpayer dollars, borrowed military aircraft for personal use, and had staff members run personal errands for him.  Both generals lost a star ― and Ward was ordered to repay $82,000 ― but neither was court-martialed.

DRONE SUBMARINES?   Nuclear  attack submarines deploying undersea drones to hunt, and possibly kill, enemy subs? The U.S. Navy is taking steps to make this a reality, according to military press reports.

BLOG BETA

Michael Gerson recently made reference in his newspaper column to a California Supreme Court decision almost 150 years old.    People  v. Hall (1854) shockingly reflects the racist climate of the times.

Hall, a white defendant, was convicted of murder on the testimony of a Chinese witness.  On appeal, Halls lawyer argued that a nonwhite could not testify against whites.  The defense cited a California law that blacks, mulattos, and Indians could not testify in any case against a white person.  The law did not specifically mention the Chinese.

People v. Hall decided that since all nonwhites were similarly inferior, no one of nonwhite blood – including the Chinese – could testify against a white accused.

The decision is reprinted below.  The bolded words are particularly disturbing.

*  *  *


THE PEOPLE, RESPONDENT, v. GEORGE W. HALL, APPELLANT.
Supreme Court of the State of California, 1854.


Mr. Ch. J. Murray delivered the opinion of the Court. Mr. J. Heydenfeldt concurred.

The appellant, a free white citizen of this State, was convicted of murder upon the testimony of Chinese witnesses.

The point involved in this case is the admissibility of such evidence.

The 394th section of the Act Concerning Civil Cases provides that no Indian or Negro shall be allowed to testify as a witness in any action or proceeding in which a white person is a party.

The 14th section of the Act of April 16th, 1850, regulating Criminal Proceedings, provides that “No black or mulatto person, or Indian, shall be allowed to give evidence in favor of, or against a white man.”

The true point at which we are anxious to arrive is, the legal signification of the words, “black, mulatto, Indian, and white person, ” and whether the Legislature adopted them as generic terms, or intended to limit their
application to specific types of the human species. . . .

The Act of Congress, in defining that description of aliens may become naturalized citizens, provides that every “free white citizen,” etc. . .

If the term “white,” as used in the Constitution, was not understood in its generic sense as including the Caucasian race, and necessarily excluding all others, where was the necessary of providing for the admission of Indians to the privilege of voting, by special legislation?

We are of the opinion that the words “white,” “Negro,” “mulatto,” “Indian,” and “black person,” wherever they occur in our Constitution and laws, must be taken in their generic sense, and that, even admitting the Indian of this continent is not of the Mongolian type, that the words “black person,” in the 14th section, must be taken as contradistinguished from white, and necessary excludes all races other than the Caucasian.

We have carefully considered all the consequences resulting from a different rule of construction, and are satisfied that even in a doubtful case, we would be impelled to this decision on ground of public policy.

The same rule which would admit them to testify, would admit them to all the equal rights of citizenship, and we might soon see them at the polls, in the jury box, upon the bench, and in our legislative halls.

This is not a speculation which exists in the excited and overheated imagination of the patriot and statesman, but it is an actual and present danger.

The anomalous spectacle of a distinct people, living in our community, recognizing no laws of this State, except through necessity, bringing with them their prejudices and national feuds, in which they indulge in open violation of law; whose medacity is proverbial; a race of people whom nature has marked as inferior, and who are incapable of progress or intellectual development beyond a certain point, as their history has shown; differing in language, opinions, color, and physical conformation; between whom and ourselves nature has placed an impassable difference, is now presented, and for them is claims, not only the right to swear away the life of a citizen, but the further privilege of participating with us in administering the affairs of our Government.

These facts were before the Legislature that framed this Act, and have been known as matters of public history to every subsequent Legislature.

There can be no doubt as to the intention of Legislature, and that if it had ever been anticipated that this class of people were not embraced in the prohibition, then such specific words would have been employed as would have put the matter beyond any possible controversy.

For these reasons, we are of opinion that the testimony was inadmissible.

The judgment is reversed and the cause remanded.

WALLY WALRUS

THANK YOU’S.   We often get nice compliments from grateful clients.  Some recent ones –

CA – California – Everything is good!   I’m receiving medical compensation and I graduated with my advanced degree. All of this is because you made me believe that – like Rocky – every dog has his day!

MS – Virginia – I’m grateful for your patience and professional guidance in pursuing the appeal.   The appeal was convoluted.  I appreciate your time flexibility to accommodate my travel schedule.  Your referral to Dr. Glassman was invaluable.  You did a great job.

RF – Pennsylvania – Dear Wayne and your lovely bride, you have an honest heart – may God continue to use you to defend the innocent.

RB – Puerto Rico – Many years and hours of lots of information I research on the web but worthless without your knowledge and expertise.  You have a touch of human kindness.   I am very pleased with your professional work.  Many blessings for you and your family.

KB – District of Columbia: Well, everything is finally final;   I’m medically retiring from the military.    It looks like everything is going well as planned, I went to Finance and they told me I don’t owe anything.  I’m doing good right now.

    TRANSGENDER BODYBUILDER SCULPTS A NEW LIFE IN THE NAVY.   Sailor Wes Phils  was named one of the winners of the 2018 International Association of Trans Bodybuilders competition. ADOPTED DAUGHTER OF MILITARY FAMILY DEPORTED. Retired Lt. Col. Patrick Schreiber and his wife Soo Jin legally adopted a daughter, Hyebin. Despite the state of Kansas issuing a birth certificate recognizing the Schreibers as her parents, the Department of Homeland Security has said there’s no legal route to citizenship for Hyebin.  Once her student visa expires she will have to leave the U.S. A Federal court in Kansas has ruled that the adopted daughter of a now-retired Army officer — who missed a key immigration deadline for her while he was deployed to Afghanistan — will have to leave the U.S. Army Lt. Col. Patrick Schreiber and his family had put off formal adoption of now-daughter Hyebin in 2013 because he was about to deploy overseas. He and wife Soo Jin legally adopted Hyebin after he got back, then started the official paperwork to seek citizenship for her. She had just turned 17. The U.S. immigration law cutoff for a foreign-born adopted child to become naturalized is 16; the U.S. District Court in Kansas declined to find an exception in Hyebin’s case. She is allowed to complete her degree in chemical engineering at the University of Kansas next year. Then she must return to Korea. Hyebin was Soo Jin’s niece, and when Hyebin’s home life became too difficult, Schreiber and his wife took her in as their own daughter.

PLEA DEAL REACHED IN CASE AGAINST FIRED MOBILITY WING COMMANDER.  A plea deal has been reached in the case of the former commander of the 375th Air Mobility Wing at Scott AFB Illinois, who was originally facing charges including sexual assault and cruelty and maltreatment.

Col. John Howard, who was fired from command in December, accepted non-judicial punishment for conduct unbecoming an officer and fraternization with a junior enlisted airman, the 18th Air Force said in a recent news release.

 Howard has submitted his paperwork to retire.

The Air Force said that the victim did not want to participate in a court-martial proceeding against Howard…

“OOPS!”  QUOTE FROM CONFEDERATE STATES NAVY CAPTAIN.  The U.S. Navy Personnel Command issued an apology Monday evening after its Twitter account posted a motivational quote from Confederate Navy Capt. Raphael Semmes.

The quote in question read, “A military, or naval man, cannot go very far astray, who abides by the point of honor.”

Semmes, who also served in the Mexican-American War for the U.S. Navy, commanded the Confederate C.S.S. Alabama during the Civil War.

LOOKING BACK.  During World War II, commissioned nurses received 50% of the pay of male officers of the same rank.  They were not entitled to receive salutes.  Disregarding these inequities, 59, 000 nurses volunteered – and half of those ended up in combat zones.   Some 217 lost their lives.  — James R Benn, The First Wave.