Occasionally I read something that strikes a nerve, and inspires me to write. This happened to me on my way back from Poland this Veterans Day. I grabbed the International New York Times in Frankfurt International as I boarded my flight back home, and read an article that made no sense to me. Phillip Carter wrote a New York Times OpEd titled “The Vets We Reject & Ignore” in an attempt to make an argument for America’s need to support military members who were discharged for other-than-honorable service (e.g. bad conduct discharge, dishonorable discharge, etc.).
Instead of showing compassion for these troops who were carrying the invisible wounds of war, their commanders kicked them out. These troops’ getting pushed out under such circumstances would be enough of a blow, but these commanders compounded the injury by giving them bad paper, instead of merely administratively separating them from the service. -Excerpt from the New York Times article
I disagree with Phillip’s arguments. To specifically address his remarks about commanders, most I’ve served with take their responsibility during Non Judicial Punishment (Article 15 NJP) proceedings very seriously. They usually have a damn good reason for giving someone an other-than-honorable discharge.
It’s an all volunteer military folks, the US government isn’t plucking people off the streets and forcing them to serve, and go to war. In over a decade of service I can’t think of one person I know who received this type of discharge, and didn’t deserve it by their wrong doings.
Non-judicial punishment or “NJP” permits commanders to administratively discipline troops without a court martial. Punishment can range from reprimand to reduction in rank, correctional custody, confinement on bread and water/diminished rations (aboard ships only), loss of pay, extra duty, and/or restrictions. Read more here.
Awarding dishonorable dischargees with benefits also creates a incentive system that rewards bad behavior.
“I’ll just smoke crack, get discharged, and get my benefits, FTN!”
If you volunteered to serve your country and go on to become a screw-up, then you deserve to suffer the consequences of not being entitled to post-service benefits that me and my fellow veterans earned.