Airman’s Religion a Personality Disorder?

Joshua Kors, an attorney and investigative reporter who focuses on military issues, recently highlighted the story of Senior Airman Nicole Dawson, who said she was discharged for what amounted to a made-up diagnosis of a personality disorder. (Kors has previously discussed allegations the military is using personality disorder discharges intentionally to disqualify troops for veteran’s services.)

The relevant portion of SrA Dawson’s story, as told in the first person [emphasis added]:

On March 11, 2014, I departed for basic training…

That all changed in March 2016. By that point, my cousin had committed suicide and all four of my grandparents had died, including my maternal grandfather…He was the only father figure that I had ever known…

His death was devastating. I needed someone to talk to…

I hesitated. But eventually I made an appointment with a psychologist…I spoke about the challenges I’ve faced, the stress I was under, and the devastating loss of my grandfather. I was thinking of the peace and calm of being with the Lord when I said, “I would rather be in heaven than have to deal with any of these Earthly circumstances going on in my life.”…

I made clear right away that I was not talking about suicide…I made clear that I was just making a religious statement, reflecting on how peaceful it is to be with God. But the psychologist was unconvinced.

Dawson intimates that statement initiated a downward spiral in which the Air Force was “working” to get her discharged for a personality disorder that didn’t exist, one that was predicated on a religious-based statement.

However, Dawson also notes she ultimately went on the anti-depressant Zoloft — voluntarily, and a full six months after she made that statement. It would seem there is more to the story than just that single statement, though she doesn’t say what that is.

The article also demurs on what her diagnosis actually was. In an effort to fight the military’s diagnosis, she sought an evaluation from an independent organization, the Civilian Medical Resources Network (CMRN) — a nonprofit with some odd left-leaning activist partners — which Dawson says concluded [brackets original]:

Dawson provides pretty strong evidence that her [personality disorder] diagnosis could be faulty due to a hasty rush of judgement…

Dawson is upset the military didn’t take this new “evaluation” seriously — though few people would probably take an evaluation that said “pretty strong evidence” seriously.

In the end Dawson was indeed discharged, but it really doesn’t seem that religion had much to do with it, despite Dawson’s initial thoughts. The issue of personality disorders as they relate to service in and discharge from the military is complex, but it doesn’t seem that faith contributed to the complexity here.


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