GAO: 57K Troops Got ‘Less Than Honorable’ Discharges, Despite PTSD, TBI Diagnoses

The U.S. military has kicked out thousands of soldiers for misconduct in recent years -- even though those soldiers were diagnosed with brain injuries or mental health problems that might have triggered their misconduct, the General Accounting Office says in a new report.

The U.S. has been at war for 16 years, and the nations' leaders have promised that the military will give troops with mental health problems and brain injuries help. That's not what the report says happened:

GAO's analysis of Department of Defense (DOD) data show that 62 percent, or 57,141 of the 91,764 servicemembers separated for misconduct from fiscal years 2011 through 2015 had been diagnosed within the 2 years prior to separation with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), or certain other conditions that could be associated with misconduct.

Commanders, according to the GAO, don't usually follow military policies that are meant to protect injured soldiers. They often fail to train officers to understand these medical problems. That's meant many injured soldiers who were kicked out likely can't get health care at the VA.

The GAO also listed five recommendations for the Secretary of Defense to help make sure "that PTSD and TBI are appropriately considered prior to separating certain service members from the military for misconduct."

The GAO report confirms what NPR and Colorado Public Radio News first reported back in 2015.