Wheatley: Veterans service doesn’t end, neither should support

Pittsburgh legislator introduces legislation to give veterans a second chance

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 14 – A veteran’s service to our nation doesn’t necessarily end when they take off their uniform. For many veterans their service to our nation continues for years, often as they carry the events, stress and anxiety of their time in uniform with them.

Suffering from an undiagnosed, service-connected mental health disorder or traumatic brain injury can often result in difficulties adjusting to civilian life, all too often including struggles with the law.

Recently, state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, introduced legislation that would extend a second chance to veterans who struggle with service-connected mental health disorders or traumatic brain injuries and have run afoul of law enforcement.

“Building upon the monumental Clean Slate Law, I want to make sure that veterans who have sacrificed so much for the freedom we enjoy have an opportunity to take control of their futures,” Wheatley said. “This legislation is necessary because as many know, mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder greatly affect how individuals operate in daily life. 

“This means that an unrecognized, yet very real mental health disorder may have contributed to an individual’s interaction with the law and resulted in this individual having a criminal record.”

Wheatley’s legislation, introduced as H.B. 1828, would not extend the Clean Slate program to violent offenses, but would limit access to a veteran’s criminal record when a medical professional certifies the veteran has an undiagnosed, service-connected mental health disorder or traumatic brain injury.

Wheatley’s bill has been referred to the Pennsylvania House of Representative’s Judiciary Committee for consideration, where it awaits further action.