The U.S. Army says it will conduct a "thorough" review of how it discharges soldiers who were diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder or brain injuries.
In November, CPR News and NPR reported that the Army has kicked out 22,000 soldiers since 2009, who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, for "misconduct." The soldiers had also been diagnosed with mental health issues or traumatic brain injuries. Some served at Fort Carson near Colorado Springs.
Soldiers who are discharged in this way are in danger of losing their benefits, including long-term health care for disabilities that may have been caused by combat.
In the wake of that report, a group of U.S. senators, including Colorado Democrat Michael Bennet, demanded the Army investigate itself. Earlier this week, the Army sent Bennet a letter saying it was doing just that. Bennet gave the letter to CPR News on Thursday.
"The decision to separate a Soldier from the Army for any reason is not an easy one, which is why we require a thorough review of the facts in each and every case," wrote Eric Fanning, the Army's acting secretary, on Monday. "Nevertheless, I appreciate the concerns you raised in your letter and take them very seriously. Accordingly, I directed the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower & Reserve Affairs) to conduct a thorough, multidisciplinary review of the issues you raise."
Bennet's office says it looks forward to seeing the results of the Army's investigation.
The CPR News-NPR Investigative Series:
- Oct. 28, 2015: Army Kicked Out Thousands Of Soldiers With Brain Injuries, Mental Health Issues
- Nov. 4, 2015: Senators Demand Probe Into Army's Discharge Of Troops With Mental Problems
- Nov. 25, 2015: When The Army Pushes A Soldier Out, His Mental Health Struggles Are Left To Others
- Nov. 25, 2015: Former Fort Carson Commander: 'We Need To Help, Not Judge' Struggling Troops
- Dec. 3, 2015: Army Says It Will Review Pattern Of PTSD, Brain Injuries Discharges
- Feb. 21, 2016: Four U.S. Senators Demand The Army Stop Discharging Troubled Combat Soldiers