Investigative reporter Alissa Figueroa blew the lid off the Military Corrections Board scam of denying male sexual assault victims the justice they deserve and uncovered a bigger scandal. In her four-part coverage of the scam, Figueroa uncovered a real benefits scam that begins well before the American becomes a veteran of the Army (linked below).
Officially called the Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR), Figueroa reported the Board routinely screwed sexual assault veterans out of the benefits and health care they deserved by labeling them as having Personality Disorder and providing an unfavorable discharge as a result. While the problem child here is the Army, all military branches run a similar scam.
In 2006, Figueroa reported that the majority of the 96,000 sexual assault victims reported by Pentagon were men. She also found that military branches routinely discharged these servicemembers with Personality Disorder after the victims reported the assault. The Army mislabeled many victims with Personality Disorder to justify a discharge that would void the veteran’s eligibility for many benefits including health care and GI Bill monies.
According to Figueroa:
Personality Disorder is a good litmus test for the BCMR because it’s one place the military has made mistakes. A 2008 report by the Government Accountability Office reviewed Personality Disorder discharges for 371 veterans across service branches and found that, among other things, almost a third of the soldiers discharged from the Army with a Personality Disorder were never diagnosed by a psychiatrist or PhD-level psychologist — a requirement by military policy.
Most shocking was Pentagon’s absolute denial at the Board for Correction of Military Records. Figueroa uncovered that not one of the 3,000 appeals she evaluated for wrongful discharges made by the rape victims were overturned. Veterans would gather hundreds of pages of medical documents proving these assaults but the Board would only spend 3 minutes and 45 seconds on average discussing each before rejecting it.
How can you read through hundreds of pages in less than 4 minutes? Most highly trained doctors can only evaluate a veteran’s medical file at a pace of 100 pages per hour. Do military lawyers at the Board read 20 times faster than doctors?
Veterans’ lawyers say that a practical lack of oversight is a big part of the problem. You can challenge a BCMR decision in federal court, but attorneys estimate that happens about 1 percent of the time (the Army was not able to confirm that information). Lawyer fees range from $5,000 to $15,000, so most service members can’t afford one.
“In the last 30 years there’s been almost no judicial review of these cases,” said Michael Wishnie, professor at Yale Law School. “The boards have come to function with impunity, without fearing that they’ll have to defend their work.”
Figueroa blew the lid off the corrupt branch of the veterans’ benefits system in a four part series covering how the Board scams veterans out of a square deal following their sexual assault.