A recent report from NPR and CPR tells us that around 22,000 soldiers who suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) or mental health conditions such as PTSD have been discharged from the Army since 2009 under dishonorable conditions. As you are surely aware, these bad discharges constitute a bar to VA benefits that these veterans so desperately need. While the recent report concerns veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, our office has seen numerous similar cases involving veterans from earlier eras, particularly Vietnam.
We often hear of veterans with PTSD who went AWOL because of the experiences they had been through. These veterans then later discover that they are not eligible for the benefits and care they need for these conditions that led to their discharge. While the Army says they are investigating these cases, there are steps you can take in your own case to get the ball rolling. Each branch of the military has a board responsible for handling discharge upgrade applications (example: Air Force Discharge Review Board.) It certainly helps to have documented symptoms in your service medical records, but it is very common, given the perceived stigma surrounding mental health problems, for the records to be silent on such issues. To support your case, the boards also welcome other evidence such as your testimony, witness statements, and doctors’ opinions. Once you have successfully proven your case for an upgraded discharge based your disability, you will be able to apply for VA compensation.
It is great news for these veterans that the Army is going to begin reviewing these cases, but it is still very important to submit an application for correction so that you can be assured that your name is on their list. This is especially important for veterans who served outside the specific time period (2009-present) that was mentioned in the recent report. We are happy to provide a free consultation if you aren’t sure whether your case qualifies or you need more direction on how to get started. Please call us at 877-629-1712. We want to help you get the benefits you deserve after your courageous service to our country.