Mentally Ill Veterans Denied VA Benefits Can Proceed with Class Action Lawsuit
Navy and Marine Corps veterans who developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following their service in Afghanistan and Iraq can now file suit against the military that has denied them Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits. The decision follows a recent ruling by a senior judge in the U.S. District Court. A detailed article on the case is available here.
A Discharge Question
The class-action lawsuit brought by several service veterans against Navy Secretary Richard Spencer has been certified by a federal judge in New Haven, Connecticut. It alleges servicemembers received unfair discharges under less-than-honorable conditions—all following minor infractions which resulted from untreated mental-health problems. The designation of a less-than-honorable discharge prohibits veterans from receiving mental health treatment and other VA benefits.
A Slim Chance of Upgrade
Veterans with mental-health problems now qualify for additional leniency when seeking discharge upgrades under new rules established last year. While the Army and Air Force approved some 51% of requests for discharge upgrades, the Navy discharge review board only approved 16% of discharge upgrade applications. Federal prosecutors cite the ability of plaintiffs to reapply for these discharge upgrades as grounds to reject the class-action lawsuit.
Similar Cases in Progress
Another group of veterans in a similar class-action lawsuit against the Army has received representation from students at Yale Law School. According to them, some one-third of the nearly two million veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq now suffer from mental-health disorders—including PTSD. They allege minor infractions related to mental illness lead the military to issue a high number of discharges under less-than-honorable conditions.
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