Moving upstream: why rehabilitative justice in military discharge proceedings serves a public health interest

Am J Public Health. 2014 Oct;104(10):1805-11. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302117. Epub 2014 Aug 14.


The cultural divide between US military and civilian institutions amplifies the consequences of military discharge status on public health and criminal justice systems in a manner that is invisible to a larger society. Prompt removal of problematic wounded warriors through retributive justice is more expedient than lengthy mental health treatment. Administrative and punitive discharges usually preclude Department of Veterans Affairs eligibility, posing a heavy public health burden. Moving upstream--through military rehabilitative justice addressing military offenders' mental health needs before discharge--will reduce the downstream consequences of civilian maladjustment and intergenerational transmission of mental illness. The public health community can play an illuminating role by gathering data about community effect and by advocating for policy change at Department of Veterans Affairs and community levels.

MeSH terms

  • Crime / psychology
  • Family Relations
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Health
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Public Health*
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Veterans / psychology*