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New rule: potential discharge upgrades for vets with PTSD

It’s a nightmare scenario for what might be scores of thousands of Vietnam-era veterans.

Just imagine this reality that is believed to exist for high numbers of vets who served in Vietnam during wartime. They did their job and, during the course of their enlistment, suffered duty-related symptoms that clearly allowed for a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis.

In what is termed a “Catch-22” situation, none of those vets did receive a PTSD diagnosis, because the disorder was not recognized in the military or by medical professionals until later.

Because they could not obtain what they were ordered to obtain, they were slapped with other-than-honorable discharges. It is estimated that as many as 80,000 Vietnam-era vets having duty-related PTSD left the service with that lasting stigma.

In other words, they served and then they were punished.

Such a discharge is anything but trifling. Vets with less-than-honorable discharges are denied important post-service benefits across a broad spectrum.

Things might now change for some of those vets, with a new rule being implemented earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Defense that allows for discharge reconsideration for vets who can provide some credible evidence that they suffered from PTSD during their service.

Pentagon officials state that “liberal consideration” for military records correction will now be given to any vet who does provide documentation.

The revised policy was influenced by a federal lawsuit filed earlier this year that claimed the DOD was unjustly denying discharge upgrades for vets with PTSD.

An upgrade is an obviously important development for any concerned veteran, resulting in benefits restoration and, equally important, renewed self-esteem.

A legal participant in the lawsuit says that affected veterans “should be recognized for having served honorably, not stigmatized and discriminated against.”

That is unquestionably true. Veterans with questions about discharge upgrades can receive accurate advice and strong representation from a proven military defense attorney.

Source: Military Times, "DOD willing to reconsider discharges of Vietnam vets with PTSD," Andrew Tilghman, Sept. 3, 2014

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