Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) January 16, 2013 – Vietnam Veterans of America has joined a proposed class action lawsuit in Connecticut against the Armed Forces.
The lawsuit, which was filed by a veteran last year against the Army, Navy and Air Force, states that Vietnam War-era veterans who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were discharged under other-than-honorable conditions, which meant they were ineligible for disability and other benefits.
The military has not reviewed or attempted to upgrade the status of discharges for many thousands of those vets with service-related PTSD. According to the National President of Vietnam Veterans of America, John Rowan, those discharges were due to a lack of comprehension in step with the time; PTSD was not understood by mental health professionals when those vets were in service.
“Now that diagnoses have been updated,” says veterans’ disability lawyer James Fausone, “it seems perfectly reasonable that there are some vets who would like their discharge status changed to reflect that.”
The U.S. attorney’s office is currently reviewing the matter and plans to respond in court. The office is representing the military in this lawsuit, which was filed by John Shepherd, a Vietnam vet. Shepard says he was first diagnosed in 2004 with PTSD, but repeatedly has had his discharge upgrade requests denied. Shepherd is being represented by students at Yale Law School who are working at a Connecticut-based legal services clinic for vets.
According to those students, the Army has so far approved less than 2 percent of Vietnam vet upgrade applications since 2003, in sharp contrast to the 46 percent of overall discharge upgrades. And, say the students, some of the vets who are being denied an upgrade have been formally diagnosed with PTSD by Veterans Affairs.
The students estimate that some 85,000 of the 250,000 other-than-honorably discharged Vietnam veterans had PTSD. Their PTSD was likely a factor in the discharges that were based on conduct including drug use, unauthorized absence without leave, and shirking their duties.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is in support of the vets, and has reportedly been working in concert with the Yale Law Clinic and federal agencies to attempt to resolve the issue. He stated that though PTSD was not understood in the past, that should not preclude how cases are assessed now.
James G. Fausone is a Veterans disability attorney and Veterans attorney with Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC. To learn more or to contact a Veterans disability attorney or Veterans attorney call 1.800.693.4800 or visit http://www.legalhelpforveterans.com.
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Northville, MI 48168
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