Bad Paper, Good Treatment

posted in Our Thoughts, Veterans

By Jennifer Stivers

Bad Paper can be unfair. It can have serious negative consequences for vets. It affects hundreds of thousands. But it doesn’t count at VFR, where Bad Paper will never get in the way of top notch mental health care.

“Bad Paper” is a term used to indicate a discharge from the military that was officially classed as less than fully honorable. These discharges include Other Than Honorable (OTH), General, Bad Conduct, Dishonorable, Officer Discharge, and Entry Level Separation.

The most common type of Bad Paper is an OTH discharge. It is estimated that there are more than 500,000 Veterans with OTH discharges. Veterans with an OTH discharge have higher rates of suicide and are at greater risk of homelessness.

Bad Paper can happen as a result of a multitude of circumstances, some of which are based on minor infractions brought on by behaviors linked to mental illnesses like PTS, symptoms brought on by Military Sexual Trauma (MST), or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). LGBT veterans have also been negatively affected by Bad Paper over the years.

Between WWII and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2011, there were roughly 100,000 LGBT Veterans who received Bad Paper. The good is that those can apply for a discharge upgrade, but this can be a daunting task. Some Veterans burned or hid those discharge papers for fear of being outed. Some of those documents have since been lost as it has been such a long time since their discharge from the military.

An OTH discharge can be a Catch-22 that keeps Veterans from obtaining treatment. A Veteran with an OTH discharge is often ineligible for various benefits.

At VFR Healthcare, we understand the circumstances that may have led to a less than honorable discharge. We will help you regardless of your discharge status. You will receive top-notch treatment even if you have Bad Paper.

Jenn Stivers is the Clinical Outreach Coordinator for VFR in Paramus, New Jersey.