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Military Bars Soldiers with 'Personality Disorders'

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Military Bars Soldiers with 'Personality Disorders'

U.S.

Military Bars Soldiers with 'Personality Disorders'

Military Bars Soldiers with 'Personality Disorders'

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Thousands of military personnel have been dismissed for "personality disorders" since the war in Iraq began.

The military says the soldiers had pre-existing mental conditions that it is not responsible for treating. But soldiers, their families and veterans' groups counter that the mental condition is post-traumatic stress disorder caused by their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Daniel Zwerdling says if a soldier's medical unit diagnoses him with PTSD, the treatment could last months and make the military liable for the soldier's disability benefits. But if the soldier is diagnosed with a personality disorder — a condition that predates his military service — then the treatment would only last a couple weeks and the military would not be liable for the disability benefits.

Zwerdling says he found no evidence of a military psychiatrist diagnosing a soldier with a personality disorder in order to avoid the extended treatment and costs. However, he did hear that the personality disorder diagnosis has been used to discharge problem soldiers quickly.

William Wooldridge, who was an Army specialist in Iraq, says he was dismissed from the service for having a personality disorder.

During his second enlistment, Wooldridge says he underwent a stressful deployment to Iraq and had a breakdown. When he returned to the U.S., he was evaluated by an Army psychiatrist and received a discharge for having a personality disorder.

Wooldridge fought the diagnosis and eventually got it changed to PTSD.

Zwerdling says the military also needs to figure out how it will deal with the tens of thousands of soldiers and Maries who are returning home with serious mental health problems that interfere with their daily lives.

Currently, he says, the military has a terrible system for dealing with mental health problems and it is not doing much to make the system better.

Zwerdling and Wooldridge talk to Alex Chadwick about the issue.