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Connecticut vet sues the army over less-than-honorable discharge due to addiction

mental health
Kevin Simmons

A veteran from Stratford, Connecticut, has sued the U.S. Army over its refusal to recognize substance use disorder as a mental health condition.

Mark Stevenson got a less-than-honorable discharge due to his drug addiction. In the lawsuit, he claims his anxiety and depression led to his drug use.

He said he turned his life around two decades ago and now he mentors other veterans. But the Army has refused to upgrade his discharge status.

Shariful Khan, with the Yale Law School’s veterans clinic, the group that represents Stevenson, said he hopes Stevenson’s case will force the Army to recognize that less-than-honorable discharges due to substance use disorder deserve an upgrade.

“He is truly a part of this community and has completely transformed his life. And if the military isn't willing to help him, then I'm unclear about who they will help,” Kahn said.

Khan said Congress has directed the military to be more lenient on discharge decisions for mental health conditions.

Less-than-honorable discharges can block veterans’ access to disability and education benefits.

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.