PTSD vets find understanding in courts

Army veterans are successfully using their PTSD to upgrade their discharges in increasing numbers, according to an article in the Belleville News-Democrat.William Cassara, an attorney in Augusta, Ga., who specializes in military justice cases, told the newspaper the Army Discharge Review Board is more lenient toward PTSD-afflicted than those of other services.

Dr. Liza Gold, a psychiatrist at Georgetown University’s Program of Psychiatry and Law in Washington, D.C., said civilian and military courts are becoming more understanding about war-related stress.

“And I do think a lot of the reason for that is the last 10 years of combat and active war,” said Gold, who has treated veterans with PTSD. “Seeing those folks come back and what they’ve been through, and I think people are more accepting.”

The newspaper paints a thought-provoking portrait of Ralph Simonton, a local Korean War vet who has spent the last decade fighting for the restoration of his military benefits.

Simonton, who suffers from the symptoms of PTSD, was convicted of accidentally shooting a Korean civilian, served three years and was dishonorably discharged. He is hoping for understanding from a special Army board considering his application for an upgrade of his discharge.

He was nominated for the Purple Heart, the Silver Star and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, but he cannot receive them; nor can he receive veterans benefits because of the dishonorable discharge.

The military court, in meting out Simonton’s punishment, failed to take into account his heroism in combat or the role PTSD played in the accidental shooting, an advocate for Simonton told the newspaper. Now he is 80 and in need of medical care for various ailments.

“I’d feel a lot better if it happens,” Simonton said of the upgrade. “I’d feel I’d be getting the justice I never got.”


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  1. Bull crap, just another excuse to blame someone else for his actions. There never has been another war with so little actual fighting, so few soldiers in country, such a large number of awards given out as this war. There is hardly any fighting going on in this country. More soldiers have been killed by ied’s, next accidents and less soldiers killed in combat. The reason so many are killed in ied’s is because the officers and senior nco’s don’t know how to fight a war and avoid the ied’s. These currents soldiers are all about me, me, me, and me. There have been more awards given to these soldiers than in any other war and they whine about everything from food to clothing. By large, this is the most lazy and complaining army ever and have the best pay ever and the best comfort for a war zone. A dishonorable discharge will not keep him from getting his medals altho it will prevent him from va benefits. Way too many soldiers claiming ptsd for no fighting. I wonder if anyone is going back and helping the korea and vietnam vets who are in jail or have a dishonorable discharge and can claim ptsd. And now all of these soldiers are coming back and wanting all the best jobs because they deserved it. Bull crap

  2. “Tom”, I am a combat veteran and find your words ignorant, stupid, and just a lack of respect. Trauma affects different people different ways. Why don’t you pick up a book and use your internet abilities to have some sort of knowledge, instead of writing such ignorant things. Its not their fault that you are soooo perfect, and need no one. Do us a favor, swallow your nose, and maybe you will have a different outlook for those soiliders.


  3. Sorry butthead, been there done that combat thing. I note that you made it a personal attack not a debate on the subject. You can’t see the forest because of the trees. I respect all soldiers in combat but current soldiers are really pushing the limit on everything for themselve. This has been nothing but a career advancement for officers and a chance to play soldiers for others. After all the americans deaths and injuries, all the billions of dollars and nothing has been accomplised. The war in iraq and afgan has been lost. We will be paying for all these spoiled soldiers for the rest of their lives. Kids, young men and women around 20 years old just do not have what it takes to be a soldier, or most don’t anyway.

  4. Tom,

    Your attitude towards our service members disgusts me. Maybe you should take a walk in the shoes of our oif/oef veterans. They are some darn fine people. You claim you want debate, but all you’ve written is degrading comments on a subject you have little knowledge of–bashing these 20 somethings who give their lives….thousands of them!! Then, you ratchet it up with your, “been there done that” drivel. [comment edited]

  5. Tim, so you like to degrade others combat soldiers just because they do not think the current soldiers are the greatest in the history of the us. You need to open your eyes and look at history. I don’t like to see any us soldier killed or wounded. Now when the current war hits 58,000 killed, hundreds of thousands wounded, you can get down off of your high horse and come back and post. The world revolves around more than just the current soldiers, open your eyes and learn. You have been brainwashed with this current war.

  6. Wheelchairdan on

    What read here is exactly what the Military and the VA want,,fighting and blaming each other,,point your finger at him,,Oh no its his fault,,same ole chit,,, They don’t want anyone criticizing them for (THEIR Faults)… we are just pawns in THEIR game..whats happening now with PTSD,,,and not just combat PTSD but ALL PTSD related to in service is that people are seeing NOW help is needed before these Men & Women go over the edge and do things they normally wouldn’t do,,thats the bottom line,,if these type of things happened in a private sector all hell would break loose with lawsuits and blame would be seen with no Doubts,,But like I said with the VA system its set up their way,,Many veterans were unjustly discharged because of Neglectful NON-Treatment of PTSD or Mental conditions while in service,,They just Spit them out like used Chewng gum and want you weak minded to see it their way….Well guess what people times are a changin and people are getting smart Their chit–(personality disorders) ect,,the list of chit goes on & on–wake the hell up and see is really to blame and stop in fighting and help those in need,

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