Today, we're talking about mental health and the military. But first, I just learned, via Facebook, that today is International Polar Bear Day. If you have one, hug him tight. Make sure he's been fed first.
Over on his own blog, Pete Earley, has a post up about a veteran who was about to kill himself with a homemade gun. He called a Suicide Hotline, the police were sent and the patient was charged with possessing a homemade gun. It's a good post, worth the read, and Earley brings up issues about mental health emergencies and the legal system that aren't limited to veterans.
Yesterday, the New York Times had an article about military discharges for a diagnosis of "personality disorder." The diagnosis is presumed to be a pre-existing one, so once a soldier is diagnosed with a personality disorder, he can be discharged without the usual military benefits. I know that our guest blogger Dr. Jesse Hellman has an interest in the topic. He spent two years as a military psychiatrist, and has attended hearings on the topic, so I asked him to do a quick guest post for us:
The article tells of a 50 year old woman psychologist who enlisted, was sent to Afghanistan, and was involved in a number of incidents, eventually being accused of sexual harassment for remarks she had made. She was sent for psychiatric evaluation and was given the diagnosis of personality order on discharge. There are severe consequences of this diagnosis, which can include loss of future benefits, medical expenses, and more. Was the diagnosis properly considered? Did her commanding officer ask that she be given that diagnosis in order to reduce the huge medical expenses produced by the military?