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Charlie Foxtrot: Mission First and Moral Injuries (Part 2 of 6)

These service members are stripped of the honor they earned while fighting for our country.

UPDATE: After this series originally aired in late 2016, more than 12,000 people signed a petition calling for Congress to pass the Fairness for Veterans provision. The provision was included in the National Defense Authorization Act, and signed into law in by then-President Obama in late 2016. These stories remain a testament to the struggles faced by veterans every day.

In the military, the mission always comes first.

Men and women in uniform are trained to never question the mission, even if it requires them to question their conscience. But dealing with the fallout from what they saw and what they were required to do, can be unbearable. While the mission may be complete, these moral injuries endure.

For some service members, help is hard to ask for and even harder to find. Drugs and alcohol can become a way to cope with guilt and anxiety; going AWOL can be a way to escape the anger and shame; attempting suicide can be the ultimate cry for help.

Medical experts say this type of behavior can be symptoms of PTSD and TBI. But the military often considers these actions deliberate misconduct and service members are kicked out as a result.

These service members are effectively stripped of the honor they earned while fighting for our country. The only way to get it back is to engage in a new battle. This time, they’re up against a panel of military bureaucrats. What’s worse is the burden of proof falls on the veteran. Veterans are forced to wait years while a panel of faceless administrators decide their fate. To say it’s an uphill battle is an understatement.

It’s a Charlie Foxtrot.

Watch part 2 (of 5) above.

Click here for part 1 (of 5)

Click here for part 3 (of 5)

Click here for part 4 (of 5)

Click here for part 5 (of 5)

UPDATE: President signs 'Fairness for Veterans' into law

HELP | Veterans Resource Guide

If you feel moved to act, tell your lawmaker to support Fairness for Vets by signing the petition below. Let your voice be heard on social media by tweeting your Senators and Representatives.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 20 U.S. veterans die by suicide every day. About 70 percent of veterans who took their own lives were not regular users of VA services. Veterans with less-than-honorable discharges are the most vulnerable group. These less-than-honorable discharges are often issued to service members for minor misconduct, that experts say, can be behavior linked to PTSD, TBI or other trauma-related injuries.

Now is the time for Fairness for Veterans. Let's give them hope to help heal the invisible wounds of war. Please support this common sense, bi-partisan bill to require the military discharge review boards to consider mental health diagnoses like PTSD and TBI.

I am asking the congressional delegation from my state to commit to changing the discharge review board policy by passing the Fairness for Veterans Act.

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