Previous generations didn’t understand post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as we do today. Unfortunately, that led to many Vietnam-era veterans receiving an other-than-honorable discharge. And for decades, thousands of those people have been denied essential veterans benefits.
That’s all changing now, though, thanks to new guidelines handed down by the U.S. Department of Defense last month. As The New York Times reports, the new rules mark the first time that military review boards are being instructed to consider the role PTSD may have played in the initial discharge.
Advocates for veterans benefits point out that PTSD has a profound influence on behavior and may have been responsible for instances of misconduct that led to the less-than-honorable discharges.
The Defense Department’s new ruling comes on the heels of a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court by Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). The suit — which will go forward despite the new guidelines — argues that military boards routinely denied benefits to veterans who suffered from PTSD. VVA estimates that 250,000 Vietnam vets were discharged other than honorably, and as many as 80,000 of those had PTSD.
If you were discharged less than honorably from the military and are suffering from a denial of benefits because of it, a Massachusetts veterans benefits attorney can help you understand these latest developments in the law.