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Veterans without an honorable discharge now have a chance to apply for Connecticut state benefits

Jae C. Hong

An honorable discharge from the military comes with access to a slew of benefits like health care, education and home loans. But veterans in Connecticut with “other than honorable” discharges due to mental health conditions haven’t been eligible for the same benefits — until now.

The state has set up a five-member panel to review applications for benefits. Veterans can get access to state benefits if they can prove their other-than-honorable discharge was caused by post traumatic stress, sexual assault, a brain injury, sexual orientation or gender identity.

The controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prevented LGBTQ service members from serving openly was repealed in 2011. Prior to that, thousands of service members were kicked out of the military for being gay with other-than-honorable discharges.

“Veterans who suffered from government-sponsored discriminatory policies because of who they are lost access to VA health care and benefits such as education, memorial services and home loans,” state Rep. Raghib Allie-Brennan said in a statement. “The unfair discharges drove some… into depression or substance abuse.”

More information about eligibility and the application process can be found on the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs website.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.