Vietnam Veterans Are Suing the Military Over PTSD
Vietnam Veterans of America, said, PTSD was not understood by mental health professionals when those vets were in service.
“Now that diagnoses have been updated,” says veterans’ 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 Vietnam vet John Shepherd. Shepard says he was first diagnosed with PTSD in 2004, but repeatedly has had his discharge upgrade requests denied. Shepherd is being represented by Yale Law School students who are working at a Connecticut-based legal services clinic for vets. According to those students, the Army has 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.
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.