SHELTON -- Kord Ball dug out his wrinkled Army uniform from a pile of clothes inside his Shelton trailer.
And for the first time in months, the disheveled staff sergeant mustered up the energy to shave and get a haircut.
That September 2018 morning was one of Ball's last days in the U.S. Army, after a decorated 10-year military career. But the 27-year-old didn't leave the service on good terms.
Army leaders at Joint Base Lewis McChord kicked Ball out of the service for misconduct because he failed a drug test for marijuana. He received an other-than-honorable discharge, which strips away his right to access veteran benefits, including long-term health care from the Department of Veteran Affairs.
But records show the behavior that got Ball in trouble was directly related to his diagnosed anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder -- medical conditions brought on by his military service. And now, the veteran doesn't have a right to access the long-term medical benefits he needs to heal.
"They viewed him as a bad soldier instead of a sick soldier," said Heather Straub, a Tacoma-based attorney who represented Ball in his unsuccessful attempt to fight the Army's decision.
The Army has processes in place to prevent soldiers who struggle with mental health conditions from getting kicked out for behavior they cannot control.
But a five-month KING 5 investigation, which included a review of more than a thousand pages of military records, found the safeguards in place to protect certain soldiers from a negative discharge weren't effective in Ball's case. The Army commanders who had the power to impact the soldier's fate didn't follow the advice of the military medical providers who knew Ball's needs the best.
"The Army broke him," Straub said. "And even when they had a chance to fix it, they didn't."