Monday, September 15, 2014

80,000 Vietnam Veterans Wrongly Discharged May Get Benefits for PTSD

Defense Department opens door for Vietnam vets seeking PTSD-related VA benefits
Times Union Staff
Posted: September 15, 2014

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has made the path to PTSD treatment easier for some Vietnam-era veterans. In response to a lawsuit filed earlier this year by a group of Vietnam War veterans, the Department of Defense issued new guidelines governing the review of PTSD-related discharge upgrade requests.

Most of the 3.4 million Americans who deployed to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam conflict left the military before 1980, the year post-traumatic stress disorder became a recognized medical condition.

The new directive is aimed at helping military officials who consider petitions from veterans seeking to have their less-than-honorable discharges upgraded, which would allow them access to medical benefits from the VA not available at the time of their discharge.

The change was sparked by a March lawsuit brought by five Vietnam veterans and three organizations representing veterans. It alleged the military systematically avoided requests for discharge upgrades even when they included evidence of a PTSD diagnosis.

According to the suit, approximately 250,000 Vietnam-era veterans received less-than-honorable discharges, and as many as 80,000 of those service members could be eligible for PTSD-related benefits.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said review boards have been advised to give “liberal consideration” to petitions that cite PTSD.
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