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Sgt. Boyle became so intoxicated and disorderly during a weekend getaway that police were called. When they attempted to restrain him, he fought back. “I wrestled with the cops,” Sgt. Boyle said. “I don’t know if it’s part of my Iraq issues or not, but I couldn’t handle being restrained.”

A judge ultimately dismissed the charges, but Sgt. Boyle said that incident was “the straw that broke the camel’s back” for the Army, which found his behavior unacceptable.

Even though he was being considered for medical discharge, he was ousted with a general discharge based on misconduct.

“Mr. Boyle demonstrated a repetitive pattern of misconduct in civil jurisdictions,” Carol Darby, chief of media and community relations for the Army’s Special Operations Command, said about Sgt. Boyle’s dismissal. “During that same time frame, he was actively receiving medical attention.

“Nowhere in our four major criteria for PTSD does it allow for breaking the law,” she said.

Sgt. Boyle said he was scheduled to receive a general discharge with “other-than-honorable” conditions, but has been fighting to have it changed to “under honorable conditions.”

Still, the general discharge isn’t as good as an “honorable discharge” or “medical discharge,” which would guarantee him access to medical and compensation benefits. He also must repay the Army the $18,500 enlistment bonus he received for signing up for his second tour of duty.

Lawyer Jason Perry has taken on Sgt. Boyle’s case pro bono and is working to have the dismissal upgraded to a medical discharge.

Veterans Affairs does provide some counseling services for Sgt. Boyle, but the burden is on him to prove that his injuries were combat-induced. He will be able to access medical care much more easily if Mr. Perry succeeds in having his discharge upgraded.

Ominous prediction

Veterans’ advocate and lawyer Carissa Picard has been on a one-woman mission to raise awareness about troops being ousted from service as a result of deployment-induced mental health issues.

“Rather than treating that soldier as if they are treating him [for] a war injury, they treat that soldier with derision,” Ms. Picard said.

She got a bad feeling after reading in September 2008 that post-deployment soldier Spc. Jody Michael Wirawan had fatally shot his commanding officer and then turned his gun on himself.

“If we are going to continue to engage in these prolonged military conflicts overseas, then mental health care has to be made a priority,” she said in a posting to Bloggernews.com. “It has to be generously funded by Congress and aggressively utilized by the Department of Defense. If we don’t, then this won’t be the last time you will read a headline like this.”

Her grim prediction was borne out eight months later when Sgt. Russell opened fire on fellow soldiers at a stress clinic in Iraq.

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