Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) October 28, 2014 — Thousands of Vietnam veterans may become eligible for benefits, thanks to new rules that help veterans appeal less-than-honorable discharges that were caused by conduct related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
According to a Department of Defense memorandum from United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, PTSD should now be considered a mitigating factor in the review of discharge status.
The memorandum also instructs that time limits be liberally waived in these cases so that Vietnam veterans can apply. PTSD did not become an official diagnosis until after 1980. As such, Vietnam veterans could not claim PTSD disability at the time of their discharge.
“These new rules are long overdue,” remarked Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans disability lawyer. “These veterans have spent decades unable to access an array of basic benefits, including health care. Their lives have been marked by this injustice.”
According to the New York Times, a Department of Defense spokesperson said that those who become eligible will receive benefits retroactive to their first rejected claim.
Veterans applying for a discharge upgrade based on PTSD will need to provide evidence of several facts, reports the Times. They will need to demonstrate that PTSD symptoms occurred at the time of the conduct that led to their discharge, that the PTSD was service-connected and that the PTSD contributed to their discharge status.
The memorandum from Hagel provides liberal standards for evidence proving these facts. Military news analysts believe that the relaxed standards will help Vietnam veterans, many of whom may not be able to find or access significant documentation of something that first occurred decades ago.
“Veterans should know that they can work with legal representation when filing for a discharge upgrade,” said Fausone. “The process can be complex, and a legal representative can help ensure that all the right facts are included in the application and that the filing is completed correctly.”
Learn more at http://www.legalhelpforveterans.com
Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC
41700 West Six Mile Road, Suite 101
Northville, MI 48168
Toll Free Phone: 800.693.4800
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