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Navy settles with Yale law students, forcing a re-evaluation of discharges due to mental health

Courtesy of U.S. Navy

Thousands of Navy veterans who were denied honorable discharges due to mental health issues will get the chance for an upgrade after a group of law school students at Yale University sued the Navy to get the upgrades. ​

The proposed settlement would force the Navy to re-evaluate any less than honorable discharges. If there’s evidence of post-traumatic stress disorder or a brain injury, the veteran will become eligible for an upgrade.

Yale Law School student Brandon Baum, who worked on the lawsuit, said thousands of Navy and Marine Corps veterans have unfairly received less than honorable discharges, or “bad papers.”

“Bad paper discharges prevent veterans from receiving VA benefits and a range of other government services,” Baum said. “So what ends up happening is that those veterans that are already the most vulnerable, those with PTSD, traumatic brain injury or other issues, are unable to receive the benefits that they most need.”

Baum said veterans who have been denied an honorable discharge are blocked from health and disability benefits through the VA. They can also have trouble getting a job, and they can’t access education benefits through the GI Bill.

A federal judge is expected to finalize the agreement in December.

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.