Group charges State with penalizing officers seeking mental heath treatment

A group of current and former State Department employees criticized the department security clearance revocation process, which they say unfairly penalizes Foreign Service officers for seeking mental health treatment.

In a statement issued Sept. 8, Concerned Foreign Service Officers said that although Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged FSOs to get treatment, it was not always in their own best interest to do so. Clinton said that no Foreign Service Officer had ever lost a security clearance due to having sought mental health treatment.

While CFSO pointed out that none of the 13 criteria for which a security clearance can be revoked are titled “seeking mental health treatment,” it noted that a revocation could be justified under such categories as “mental disorders” or “personal conduct.” In fact, the group said, Diplomatic Security (DS) revocation letters are short, and unlike those of other agencies, rarely provide details.

“But there have been well-documented cases where the unmentioned ‘cause for concern’ under the official guideline was the simple act of seeking mental health treatment and the biased reaction to it by DS adjudicators,” the group said.

“As long as DS continues to adjudicate security clearances without a real whole-person review, without verification of the facts and without any real oversight,” the statement said, they “will continue to revoke security clearances of employees who obtain mental health treatment.”

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