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Pentagon: Mental illnesses 'pre-existing'

Oct. 1, 2007 at 1:07 AM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Pentagon officials are blaming some mental health discharges of U.S. troops in Iraq on what they call pre-existing mental conditions.

Experts say many of the approximately 10 soldiers and Marines discharged every day for mental health problems actually have combat-related problems, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Sunday.

By classifying the health problems as non-combat related, the military is saving money on treatment, the newspaper said.

Sens. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., have inserted language in a defense authorization bill to make it harder to discharge troops on those grounds, and to require a review of procedures by the Government Accountability Office.

Bond called the practice an abuse of the system. Obama said the lack of care for returning soldiers is “deeply disturbing.”