Can Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder be Applied Retroactively?

Thursday, November 15, 2012
William Dolphin

A Vietnam veteran is suing the government hoping to receive benefits for old war wounds, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) did not recognize as a legitimate claim until after the plaintiff was kicked out of the military.


William Dolphin of West Haven, Connecticut, served in the U.S. Army and was wounded in the Vietnam War in 1968. During his mission, Dolphin was thrown from a tree following an explosion, causing him to suffer back, knee and brain injuries…and PTSD.


He remained in the Army for another six years, during which he suffered from both physical and mental ailments. Following repeated absent-without-leave violations, Dolphin was discharged for bad conduct.


His troubles continued to plague him. Meanwhile, the VA didn’t formally accept PTSD as a legitimate disability until 1980. Even after this decision, Dolphin was unable to receive benefits to assist him with his war-related problems.


Last year, a psychiatrist diagnosed Dolphin with PTSD. He applied again to the VA for help, but The Army Board for Correction of Military Records denied his request on grounds that it fell outside the time period for reconsideration.


So Dolphin, now 64 years old, filed a civil complaint seeking an injunction that would direct the board to upgrade his discharge status to honorable so he can receive his long-sought benefits.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Purple Heart Recipient Sues Army Over Discharge Status; Seeks Medical Benefits (by Alaine Griffin, Hartford Courant)

Injured Vietnam Vet Seeks to Clear His Record (by Christine Stuart, Courthouse News Service)

Shell Shock, a.k.a. PTSD, May Get Yet Another New Name (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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