The former soldier who allegedly killed a ranger at Mount Rainier National Park Sunday likely was eligible for veterans benefits, according to documents that explain how soldiers with misconduct discharges like him can obtain services at Veterans Administration hospitals.
Shooting suspect Benjamin Colton Barnes was given a “general, under honorable discharge” for misconduct in September 2009. That kind of discharge qualifies for VA benefits, according to this summary.
Here’s another helpful summary from a lawyer who wrote a piece in Army Times explaining how administrative discharges can impact benefits.
“A general discharge under honorable conditions is meant for those who generally performed honorably but had some problems,” attorney Matthew Tully wrote in Army Times. “The most common reasons for a general discharge that I’ve seen are alcohol or drug abuse, excessive absences, Article 15 reasons and, occasionally, mental health problems.”
Another Army defense attorney calls the kind of discharge Barnes received “good paper” for obtaining VA benefits.
Barnes, 24, was discharged following his arrests on suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol and improperly transporting a weapon, Army Maj. Chris Ophardt said this week. Barnes has a lengthy record in Pierce and King County courts, including DUI arrests, a child custody dispute and other infractions. Here’s our summary of those cases from Monday’s newspaper.