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Vietnam vets with PTSD to get less-than-honorable discharges reconsidered

Craig LeMoult

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is applauding a new policy announced this week by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel regarding less-than-honorable discharges of Vietnam veterans who were later diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.

In a memo released earlier this week, Hagel pledged that the military will carefully review each petition for a change in discharge status based on a PTSD diagnosis.

Blumenthal says the step enables the nation to erase the undeserved stigma and disrespect that some veterans have faced.

“That stigma had real life consequences for them," Blumenthal said. "They were injured twice. First when they suffered post traumatic stress, and then when they came back to this country and they were denied benefits, like education benefits, health benefits and other real benefits that could have helped them overcome that post traumatic stress.”

Vietnam Veteran Conley Monk is a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against the military regarding discharges of vets who had PTSD.

“I pray that this makes a difference with my discharge," said Monk. "I’ve been waiting for 43 years for my discharge to be changed.”

That lawsuit is still pending in court, and a student from the Yale law clinic representing the veterans says they’ll wait to see the impact of this new policy, before discussing whether that suit will be dropped.

The Yale law clinic estimates that as many as 80,000 Vietnam veterans were discharged with other-than-honorable status as a result of undiagnosed PTSD. The law clinic says less than two percent of those who have applied for discharge upgrades have been successful.

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