Legislation would help veterans get PTSD treatment

Some military veterans can't get treatment for PTSD because their condition was diagnosed only after they were out of the service. Now some lawmakers want to change that with new legislation.

- Some military veterans can't get treatment for PTSD because their condition was diagnosed only after they were out of the service. Now some lawmakers want to change that with new legislation.

In 2005, U.S. Army soldier Kristofer Goldsmith was deployed to Iraq.

"My day-to-day job was photo documentation of graves, of mass graves," he said. "Sometimes it would be one or two dead bodies on the side of the road sometimes it would be much more than that."

Goldsmith said he was a stellar soldier when he was in a uniform but when he got home and took it off he was doing nothing but hurting himself. He turned to alcohol and started to have panic attacks, which lead to him attempting suicide.

"When I woke up from my suicide attempt while I was ion Fort Stewart, Georgia, suddenly I was treated like a criminal," he said. "In just a few weeks I was kicked out of the military. I received a general discharge, which cost me my post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits."

He was able to get professional help from a Veterans Affairs hospital on Long Island, where he was diagnosed with PTSD. After his recovery he went to the military review board to appeal his discharge.

"They said, 'Well you need to prove to us that you did not get PTSD between the day you were kicked out of the Army and the day you were diagnosed with that at the V.A.,'" Goldsmith said.

As he continues to appeal his discharge he is also fighting to get the bipartisan Fairness for Veterans Act passed in Congress.

"What this bill would do shift the burden of proof in favor of vets who have PTSD and TBI who have left the military with less-than-honorable discharges and therefore don't have access to V.A. healthcare or the G.I. Bill," Goldsmith said.

"Denying those who get a less dishonorable discharge because of PTSD is a major step backwards," said Rep. Peter King, R-New York.

The Fairness for Veterans Act was introduced last week in Congress. Goldsmith and local politicians believe that this piece of legislation can be passed in the next few months. 

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