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.”