Jim Fausone, Esq.
Veteran Disability Lawyer
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a widely accepted disability today and I have been writing on the topic frequently. It was not always so. Now the condition is at the center of a lawsuit against the US Military. The lawsuit, which seeks class action status, could ultimately affect tens of thousands of veterans.
Five Vietnam War veterans sued the U.S.military on Monday, March 3, saying they were denied some veterans services after receiving other-than-honorable discharges for actions that resulted from PTSD.
The lawsuit called on the military to upgrade the discharges of veterans of the conflict who suffer from PTSD. Veterans need an honorable discharge status to receive benefits and services. However, the military did not recognize PTSD in the 1960s and 70s at the time of Vietnam.
According to the lawsuit, “The military gave these service members other than honorable discharges based on poor conduct such as unauthorized absence without leave, shirking, using drugs, or lashing out at comrades or superior officers. These behaviors, however, are typical of those who have recently experienced trauma and were symptoms of the veterans’ underlying, undiagnosed PTSD.”
The lawsuit further notes that theUSarmed forces now have procedures in place to diagnose PTSD and will offer honorable discharges to soldiers, sailors and airmen who suffer from the condition, but have not retroactively applied those benefits to Vietnam veterans.
The men involved in the lawsuit were 17-20 years old when they enlisted in 1967-70, and all are in their 60s today. One was the victim of a poison gas attack on his first day inVietnam, and another’s duties included sorting through body parts of soldiers killed in combat.
Law students working in Yale’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic prepared the suit on behalf of the five veterans.
After repeatedly running into cases of veterans with PTSD who were effectively being denied benefits because of their condition, the law clinic decided to file suit. We applaud this effort and we recognize the problem is real and the court solution maybe a long shot.
At Legal Help For Veterans, our experienced staff can also help with PTSD claims. You can learn more about our PTSD veterans’ services at our website, http://www.legalhelpforveterans.com/practice-areas/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/.
To read more about this lawsuit, see the Reuters report at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/03/us-usa-veterans-ptsd-idUSBREA2225S20140303
Also check out LHFV’s past blog on changing the stigma behind PTSD for veterans: