Vietnam Veterans Given Less than Honorable Discharges Sue to be Classified with PTSD

Sunday, March 09, 2014

After coming home from the Vietnam War four decades ago, thousands of soldiers were kicked out of the military and given less than honorable discharges for exhibiting behaviors caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But because the military did not recognize PTSD until years after the conflict ended, many veterans were denied government benefits and other opportunities had they received a discharge for medical reasons—something many veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who suffer from PTSD now receive.


So a group of Vietnam veterans are suing the federal government to force a policy change that would result in them being classified and treated the same way as current PTSD sufferers.


“What we are asking for is a fair review process. We are asking the court to require the boards of correction of military records for each service branch to implement medically appropriate standards for considering applications that raise PTSD,” Virginia McCalmont, a Yale Law School student working with the Veterans Legal Services Clinic that helped file the lawsuit, told the media at a press conference.


Plaintiffs include five Vietnam veterans and three organizations: the Vietnam Veterans of America, Vietnam Veterans of America Connecticut State Council and the National Veterans Council for Legal Redress.


The plaintiffs are among thousands of veterans who say they have PTSD but have not received medical care for their condition because of their dishonorable discharges. They also have been denied disability and educational benefits afforded other ex-soldiers.


Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) has been critical of the government’s treatment of Vietnam veterans and urged it to alter its policies to provide them with relief.


“These veterans were wounded in war and then wounded again by their country that denied them medical benefits to cure the injury that they suffered in war,” he said.


PTSD wasn’t officially recognized as a medical disorder until 1980—five years after the fall of Saigon, marking the end of the war.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

New Haven Vietnam Veteran with PTSD, Others, File Class Action Lawsuit (by  Mary E. O’Leary, New Haven Register)

Vietnam Veterans Sue for Better Discharges, Claiming PTSD (by Michael M. Phillips, Wall Street Journal)

Vietnam Veterans Seek Redress From Pentagon (by Christine Stuart , Courthouse News Service)

Conley Monk, et al, v. Ray Mabus, et al (U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut)

Vietnam Vets Who Suffered PTSD to Sue Armed Forces over Less-than-Honorable Discharges (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Can Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder be Applied Retroactively? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Vets Accuse Pentagon of Saving Money by Classifying PTSD as “Personality Disorder” (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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