Dec 24, 2006
Soldiers suffering from the stress of combat in Iraq are being misdiagnosed by military doctors as having a personality disorder, lawyers and psychologists say, which allows them to be quickly and honorably discharged but stigmatizes them with a label that is hard to dislodge and can hurt them financially.
Though accurate for some, experts say, the personality disorder label has been used as a catch-all diagnosis to discharge personnel who may no longer meet military standards, are engaging in problematic behavior or suffer from more serious mental disorders. For returning veterans, the diagnosis can make it harder to obtain adequate mental health treatment if they must first show they have another problem, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It’s an absolute disgrace to military medicine,” said Bridgette Wilson, a former Army medic who is now an attorney in San Diego serving mainly military clients. “I see it over and over again, the dramatic misuse of personality disorder diagnosis. It’s a fairly slick and efficient way to move some bodies through.”