War has a way of changing people, not always for the better. A federal law that draws sharp distinctions between honorably discharged and dishonorably discharged must be sliced razor thin and administered with care and compassion.

How should Congress respond to the Seattle Times story about the more than 20,000 men and women who left the U.S. Army and Marines during the past four years with other-than-honorable discharges and are being refused access to VA health care and possibly disability benefits?

As the Times story noted, those men and women struggled with drug abuse, unauthorized leaves and other misconduct that have placed them “among the most troubled members of the generation of veterans who fought in the long wars launched after 9/11.”

War has a way of changing people, not always for the better. A federal law that draws sharp distinctions between honorably discharged and dishonorably discharged must be sliced razor-thin and administered with care and compassion.

Even the dishonorably discharged signed up to fight for their country. They served and lived to tell about it. Some of them may act so egregiously as to deserve nothing more than the broad hand of the law, but many more have mental problems and addictions that drive their actions. What of them?