Posted on Sep 25, 2017

Tens of thousands of servicemembers with PTSD have been improperly discharged under other-than-honorable conditions, limiting their access to benefits and stigmatizing their lives. To remedy this among other issues, Congress established two administrative bodies, the Board for Correction of Military/Naval Records (“BCMR”) and the Discharge Review Board (“DRB”), both of which serve to review and correct discharge statuses.

Unfortunately, rather than fixing the problem, the BCMR and DRB categorically denied PTSD-related discharge requests, particularly those of Vietnam veterans, to the point that, in September 2014, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel wrote a memo (“the memo”) requiring that they give “liberal consideration” to PTSD-related discharge-upgrade applications.

On May 4, 2015, finding it impossible to measure the memo’s effectiveness without access to BCMR and DRB statistics, the Veterans’ Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School filed suit against the Department of Defense (“DoD”) and the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The lawsuit resulted in a settlement in which the DoD agreed to release three types of records on a quarterly basis for the span of two years: 1) The number of PTSD-related discharge-upgrade applications submitted to the BCMR and DRB; 2) The number of those applications that were granted and denied; and 3) The docket number for each application.

The Report

On July 27, 2017, the DoD released a report (“the report”) detailing the agreed upon PTSD-related discharge statistics for the time period of April 1, 2017 through June 30, 2017. The report revealed two important facts: 1) the number of veterans applying for PTSD-related discharge upgrades is dwindling; and 2) PTSD-related discharge-upgrade application approval rates are on the rise.

Number of Veterans Applying for PTSD Related Discharge Upgrades Dwindling

Despite the fact that tens of thousands of veterans are eligible for PTSD-related discharge upgrades, the report revealed that the number of veterans who actually apply is slim. While last quarter’s report demonstrated an already very low number of applications, with 195 and 102 Army and Navy applicants respectively, this quarter’s report shows continued decline, with only 97 army veterans and 84 navy veterans applying. This means that many veterans who could benefit from the “liberal consideration” standard set by Chuck Hagel are missing their opportunity to do so.

Application Approval Rates are on the Rise

In the past, veterans who have applied for PTSD-related discharge upgrades have found their applications to be disproportionately denied. However, approval rates are now rising. While last quarter only 43% of Army applicants and 25% of Navy applicants were approved, this quarter 53% of Army applicants and 32% of Navy applicants were approved.

Apply for a Discharge Upgrade Today

While the effects of an improper discharge can be crippling, many hesitate to apply for a discharge upgrade because the process can be difficult to navigate. Having an experienced attorney on your side can make all the difference. If you are considering applying for a discharge upgrade, Call the offices of Attorney Sean Kendall today at (877) 629-1712. We will take the steps necessary to correct your records and get you the benefits and respect that you deserve.