Civics & Politics The Environment Health Economics Social Issues Full Archive
NOW on Demand
Week of 4.3.09

"Coming Home?" & "Paradise Lost, Revisited"

Has the Army been denying care to its neediest soldiers?

It appears that your computer does not have the Flash Player required to view NOW videos. Visit Adobe to download and install the latest version of the Flash Player.

Thousands of U.S. troops are getting discharged out of the army. Many suffer from post traumatic stress disorders and brain injuries, and haven't been getting the care they need. The Army's been claiming these discharged soldiers had pre-existing mental illnesses. But health advocates say these are wrongful discharges, a way for the army to get rid of "problem" soldiers quickly, without giving them the treatment to which they're entitled.

NOW covered this issue last summer, and this week we revisit the army's controversial position and follow up with affected soldiers we met.

As a result of the media attention from our report and others, the Department of Defense revised its criteria for diagnosing pre-existing conditions and, now, fewer soldiers are receiving the diagnosis, making more of them eligible for care.

This is an update to the NOW investigation: Fighting the Army

Related Link:

Salon: Kill yourself. Save us the paperwork

Also This Week: Paradise Lost, Revisited
(part two of the video above)

A president's desperate attempt to save his country, as the ground literally disappears under his feet.

This week we update how the distant Pacific nation of Kiribati is dealing with the reality that both their land and culture could disappear from the Earth due to global warming. Kiribati President Anote Tong is now considering purchasing land abroad to save his people.

He says his pleas for international support have largely fallen on deaf ears. Experts predict millions of people will become climate change refugees in the years to come.

This is an update to the show Paradise Lost

Related Links

Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2009

University of Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

Copenhagen Climate Conference 2009

Viewer Comments

Commenter: Ladan
Hello and thank you for great programs,

My comment is about the coming home section. Psychiatry literature explains the reason PTSD was less of a problem in Second World War comparing to Vietnam and Iraq wars was that most people agreed that the Second World War was a reasonable fight and people who fought for a just cause felt as real heroes. As opposed to that war in Vietnam and Iraq soldiers were lured into an unjust war fighting for big corporate benefits and once in war zone realizing the damage and human cost of war they became disillusioned. I personally feel that PTSD is a problem for soldiers with a conscious! I applaud president Obama's choice to increase the budget for mental health services in the army but I feel that people responsible to lure us into unjust wars and corporate that benefited the most out of it (such as Exxon mobile and Halliburton and black water) should beer the Borden more than American tax payers. I wish there would be attorneys out there that will decide to go after this companies and persons in civil courts on behalf of our soldiers.


Commenter: RN
Re: Treatment of our soldiers.
How appalling that the powers that be would squirm out of providing medical and psychiatric care based on concocted "pre-existing" conditions. It is also asinine that the guilty parties do not care about, or equally sad do not see, their alternate accountability. In essence, their declarations thereby state that people are taken on board with either a medical or psych diagnosis or with an indication of a problem after the recruitment assessment and to hell with the consequences.

Commenter: Tanja Winter
Congratulations on doing an outstanding job of presenting the tragic consequences of Global neglect in Paradise Lost.

A truly important program!!!

Hope we'll get continued coverage.

San Diego

Commenter: jim bee
The V.A. is being overwhelmed with PTSD claims to the point they have had to divert $$$Billions of bucks to hire more intake workers and doctors and staff . Many of the claims are pure B.S. by the troops who smell the money! Sames for TBI's. The majority were never hospitalized or even treated for TBI(Traumatic Brain Injury.) They claim a fall in basic training or a loud noise such as an explosion. The slikies tack an alleged TBI on to the PTSD claim as well for the bucks. We DAV's are receiving less care because of this big-time scam. Last I heard . there were over 700,000 claims for just PTSD related problems. No wonder the VA budget is skyrocketing to over $$110 Billion. The total military budget is over $$$1 Trillion for FY 2009. Ref. Wikipedia.

Commenter: chris summers
I thought NOW got it wrong and the Army got it right on this one.

His angry, aggressive behavior while home was tempered after his life had meaning again and he was useful to others.

I would say he was ashamed of his fear during Iraq and wanting out. This was the cause of his outbursts, anger, not PTSD.

Commenter: Martin Bensky
If we accept that the earth is warming, resettling people whose habitat is being destroyed is far more important and effective than trying, and hoping, to reverse the trend by reducing our production of CO2. We should be building nuclear power plants as fast as we can, but global warming has been so politicized that that option is barely allowed on the table (think Al Gore). There is a strong possibility that global warming is not a man-made phenomenon, and our energies should be directed at preparing for the consequences, only one of which is finding suitable places for displaced people to live. Much of the earth will become more habitable; start moving now while we have a chance.

Commenter: Elena Seitz
I just watched tonight's NOW segment on "Coming Home." How much more shameful and appalling are things going to get for these distressed, traumatized soldiers and their families who continue to suffer without proper help? We are not just passively allowing them to fall through the cracks, but it seems that we are actively pushing them down through the cracks and abandoning them. Have we no morals, no integrity, no sense of justice and duty? As only one example out of thousands, NOW featured Sargeant Luther, who devoted 12 years of his precious life serving in the U.S. Army. If he was good enough for the Army to allow him to serve us for 12 years, then he is certainly good enough for the Army and America to stand by and serve him and his family now in their time of need. Ditto for the many like him. When is this going to stop? When are we going to acknowledge that duty is a two-way street? We learn that the Army is finding ways to avoid treating people by deciding that soldiers had pre-existing conditions. How do we expect them to get treatment? Who is going to insure them? Private insurers are also going to refuse them due to pre-existing conditions. How do we expect people to pay for their much-needed treatment--especially since they Armed Forces do not pay particularly well in the first place, and if they grow sicker and sicker due to lack of treatment, how can we expect them to flourish in careers that will promote financial stability and success? This is all related to another problematic issue. When are we as a nation going to wake up and see that we need a national health care system? Proper, effective health care is a basic need and right.

Commenter: Clarence Hurd
Let's see.. the oceans have rising 6 inches in the last 100 years. Your piece talks about the last 50 years that's only 3 inches. Sounds to me that the islands are subsiding. The ocean rise has nothing to do with their problem.

Your irresponsibility and obvious deception are criminal.

Commenter: Florence Foley
I had no idea there were climate change refugees. Is there a website that is specifically dedicated to help these people and draw peoples attention to it. I consider myself fairly knowledgable but it's the first time I heard of it and I'm sure there are many others like me.

Thanks for a great show.

Coming Home?

Fighting the Army

Resources for Soldiers and Vets

Soliders' Stories

Paradise Lost, Revisited

Paradise Lost

Reporter's Notebook: Mona Iskander in Kiribati

Slideshow: Paradise Lost

Green Hawaii

Washed Up

Income Taxes: You Asked, He Answered

Sachs on the G20 Summit

Audio: Stream | Download
Buy a DVD
Contact Us

Topics search results will display here.