When Michael Hartnett was getting kicked out of the U.S. Marine Corps, he was too deep into post-traumatic stress disorder, drugs and alcohol to care as his battalion commander explained to the young man that his career was ending, and ending badly.
"Do you understand what I'm saying to you, son? It's going to be six and a kick," Hartnett recalls the commander telling him.
The "six" was an expected six months of hard labor in the brig. The kick happened at Hartnett's court-martial, and finally woke him up out of the haze.
Eric Highfill spent five years in the Navy, fixing airplanes for special operations forces. His discharge papers show an Iraq campaign medal and an Afghanistan campaign medal, a good-conduct medal, and that he's a marksman with a pistol and sharpshooter with a rifle.
None of that matters, because at the bottom of the page it reads "Discharged: under other than honorable conditions."
In June 2008, Marine Cpl. Anthony Villarreal was driving back from a mission in Afghanistan when his truck was hit by a roadside bomb. He was 22 at the time and recently married to Jessica, who was just 21.
Villarreal suffered third-degree burns over most of his face and body and was very severely disfigured. His right arm and the fingers on his left hand eventually had to be amputated.
Last spring, the Colorado Springs Gazette investigated the connection between war wounds, military misconduct and other-than-honorable or bad conduct discharges. Now Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet wants to officially study the topic.